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HomeNews130 Yellowknifers join Women's March on Washington Saturday

130 Yellowknifers join Women’s March on Washington Saturday

The -20 degree weather didn’t stop Yellowknifers from marching in support of women’s and minorities rights Saturday morning.

RELATED: Yellowknife man to join Women’s March in Texas

Around 130 people marched from city hall through downtown as part of the Women’s March on Washington.

Sister marches took place throughout the United States and even internationally Saturday, coinciding with Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday.

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Organizer Nancy MacNeill during Saturday’s march.

“One thing that happens in tense political climates … is people feel the need to come together in solidarity,” said one of the march’s organizers, Nancy MacNeill.

“We might be fighting different battles but we want to stand together and tell each other that whatever your fight is, we support you.”

Yellowknife’s march was not meant to take a political stance, MacNeill told Moose FM, but rather to “give the stage to people who don’t usually have the stage”.

Marchers made several stops around town to hear speakers from different local organizations.

Speakers included the Rainbow Coalition, the NWT Disability Council, Indigenous rights activists and even Zeina Alhajy, a member of Yellowknife’s first Syrian refugee family.

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“There are amazing groups working around Yellowknife and around the Northwest Territories … who do outstanding work for people who aren’t noticed by politicians,” MacNeill said.

“Those are people who have amazing lived experiences and stories that we can all really benefit from, and a really big part of this march [was] us taking a turn to listen.”

Those listening included local politicians. MLAs Julie Green and Kevin O’Rielly joined the march, along with Mayor Mark Heyck.

“I think everybody around the world, and certainly here in Yellowknife, have been concerned with what we’ve see with the last year of the presidential election and now with President Trump being sworn into office,” Heyck said.

“It’s important that citizens around the world stand up and make sure that the United States knows that we’re watching, we’re supporting people who believe in inclusivity and diversity.”

MacNeill added: “When we see voices that we don’t necessarily agree with get national and international stages and get recognized over and over and over… that can be a really defeating feeling.

“This is a really important moment for us all to come together and just remind ourselves and each other that there are a lot of people out there who have similar values to us and who believe that oppression is wrong and who believe that we should be celebrating progressive work that holds up the values of intersexual feminism.”

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‘We’re stronger together’

Sisters Megan, left, and Emma Welsh getting ready for Saturday’s march outside city hall. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/Moose FM)

Sisters Megan and Emma Welsh said they were ‘relieved’ when they heard Yellowknife was holding a sister march to the one on Washington.

“In a time like this where people are feeling very isolated and not properly represented, it’s good to be in a group of people who will support you and will justify your existence and know that there are people willing to help minorities, whichever one your are a part of,” said Emma.

“I was excited to come and hear the speakers talking about global issues, but also Canadian issues,” added Megan.

“I’ve got friends in the United States, they’re very far away but I thought we could do this and try to support them on this particular day.”

“I think [Trump’s] willingness to divide the population to get his own ends is pretty scary, and I quite honestly think it’s a drift towards fascism and we have to stand up and make sure that it doesn’t happen.”
“The way to keep the political and economic elites under control is to have people in the streets,” said Ben McDonald, who came out to show his support for the cause.

“The conflict in the American election is a worldwide concern, and I think that we need to say that populism and the drift to the right is a bad thing.

“The ballot boxes work to an extent, but it doesn’t work when you come to people who are willing to manipulate laws, manipulate power to get the things done the way they want them to be done.”

From left to right: Shane Pike, Ben Linaker and Tony Morris. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/Moose FM)

Ben Linaker says he marched for all his friends facing discrimination.

“It’s easy coming from the perspective of a white male to not be affected by these things,” Linaker said.

“But I have friends that are LGBTQ, I have friends that are women, I have friends that are being impacted by the events happening in the states and I need to be with them when they battle for their rights and battle against these slights being done on them on a political level.”

MacNeill added: “A really big part of creating the society we want is showing up.

“This is a great opportunity for us all to remind ourselves how much work we have to do, and how much work those things really take,” she said.

“It’s a good reminder that the world that we want isn’t going to come for free, we’re going to have to work for it.”

(Photos by Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/Moose FM)

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