Thousands of people gathered downtown Saturday to participate in Occupy Vancouver, a demonstration aimed at protesting financial inequality and poverty.

Beginning at 10 a.m. protesters crowded the Vancouver Art Gallery and surrounding streets causing traffic closures throughout the day.

Participants cheered on speakers, started chants and carried signs displaying messages ranging from anti-corporate sentiments to animal welfare issues. There was even music and dancing -- a contrast to the violence seen in New York's Occupy Wall Street protest that started the world-wide movement.

Although Vancouver police were prepared for violence to break out over fears stemming from June's Stanley Cup riots, the protesters remained peaceful and relaxed throughout the day.

Cst. Jana McGuinness said police were watching for trouble makers but didn't anticipate the demonstrations to become out of hand.

"It was billed as a peaceful and lawful protest and that's what we've seen so far today," McGuinness said. "It's been a pretty good crowd."

The British Columbia Federation of Labour was in full force at the demonstration, urging people to continue speaking out for their beliefs.

"We're encouraging people to come here today and send that message to decision makers -- to government, to the people that live in the top of these towers. There's got to be fairness in Canada and in British Columbia," said Jim Sinclair, President of the B.C. Federation of Labour.

The protest that started in New York has quickly grown into a world-wide movement. Occupy demonstrations were held throughout B.C. in Victoria, Nanaimo, Kelowna and Nelson, as well as in cities across Canada.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Penny Daflos