Thousands expected at Trump-inspired women's rights march
Demonstrators will march from Jack Poole Plaza to Trump Tower, where the sign that had been covered with tarps was uncovered for the first time in months this week. (Steven Murray / CTV)
Published Wednesday, January 18, 2017 4:24PM PST
Organizers say as many as 5,000 people are planning to gather in downtown Vancouver on Saturday as part of a global women's rights movement prompted by the results of the U.S. election.
The Vancouver version of the Women's March on Washington is one of more than 600 happening around the world, scheduled for the day after Donald Trump's official inauguration ceremony.
Similar events are being held in cities including Calgary, Fredericton, Nanaimo, Yellowknife, Saskatoon, across the U.S. and in more than 50 other countries, organizers say. The largest is expected to be in the U.S. capitol, and many Canadians plan to head south of the border for the weekend to show support in D.C.
The Vancouver March on Washington starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at Jack Poole Plaza, and organizers estimate that between 3,000 and 5,000 people will march through downtown streets.
They will march from the plaza to the city's Trump Tower, where the sign that had been covered with tarps was uncovered for the first time in months on Wednesday.
The march is meant to "send a bold message" about women's rights to the new U.S. government, a website for the event says.
It is not officially an anti-Trump protest, though many in attendance likely share the sentiment.
The Washington event was inspired by an election night Facebook post from a 60-year-old grandmother from Hawaii. She wrote, "I think we should march." A day later, 10,000 women had told her they were in.
Since then, the idea has spread around the world, and organizers believe they may break a world record for the largest march in history.
Helesia Luke, who works in Vancouver as a coordinator for Green Jobs BC, said when she first heard about it, she knew she wanted to be in Washington for the event. She booked a ticket within a few days.
"I think this past election in the U.S. has been shocking in the kind of language that has surfaced about women, about oppressed communities, about people of colour, and it's really time to stand up and take power back," Luke said.
"It's not OK to talk about people that way."
While Luke is Canadian and Trump is not her president, she said the new U.S. leader has a lot of power and a broad podium to speak from, and it can influence everyone regardless of where they live.
"Women's rights don't have borders," she said.
Luke said the sizes of the Washington event and local marches show how deeply people feel about some of the things that were said during the U.S. election campaign.
Samantha Monckton, who is helping with communications for both national and local Women's March campaigns, said the response to the event has been "mindblowing."
She said it's "breathtaking" how many people are excited about the events, both in B.C. and around the world.
"This march is going to be something we've never seen before," Monckton told CTV News.
"It's a very exciting opportunity for people to come together and talk about women's rights and equality and inclusion and diversity, and we're really looking forward to a huge turnout on Saturday."
Monckton said the main goal of the march is to promote discussion about women's rights, but sending a clear message to global leaders is also a priority.
She said she hopes the event will be a "call to action to government to include these priorities: health and economic security, representation and safety."
Everyone is welcome to join and voice their opinions, Monckton said, but they encourage positivity and peacefulness. There will be volunteers at the event whose roles will be to "keep the peace," she said.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Mi-Jung Lee