Kingstonians march for women’s rights

Women’s march shows support for MMIW, Iranian women’s revolution, and workplace rights

The march stood in solidarity with women’s movements around the world.
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Women from diverse paths walked together on Sunday to make noise in support of women’s rights.

Dozens of Kingstonians marched on City Hall in the cold weather on Sun., Jan. 22 in solidarity with women around the world whose rights are under threat.

Kingston City Counsellor Wendy Stephen emceed the event. Stephen emphasized the importance of women leaning into their discomfort to support women who are part of marginalized communities.

“Those of us with privilege have a responsibility to look deeply at what that means for us, for society, and use that privilege to lift others up,” Stephen said in an interview with The Journal.

The march showed solidarity with missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW), the Iranian Women’s Revolution, and women’s rights in the workplace. 

“We are trying to ensure that a number of different voices are heard, and our event is intersectional, feminist, as well as a safe space for LGBTQ+ people,” Maya Cowan, an organizer of the march, said in an interview with The Journal.

The movement against the Roe v. Wade ruling in the United States—which resonated with women in Canada—also inspired the march.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done in Canada to protect the right to abortion, and access is really a huge issue,” Cowan added.

This sentiment was echoed in a speech by Marilyn Birmingham, who has been advocating for women’s rights for six decades.

A retired nurse from New York, Birmingham shared stories from the emergency room where she helped women suffering physical and psychological damage caused by “back-room abortions.”

“I fear with the rising reactionaries in Canada, the right to choose is threatened here too,” Birmingham said.

The march included multiple local activists who shared their experiences as women and members of marginalized communities.

Speaker Martha Williams, an activist and member of the Black Luck Collective, promised to use her voices to advocate for equity among all women.

“My commitment is never to be silent,” Williams said. “I make noise. I advocate for reproductive rights and justice. I advocate for equity and force myself into spaces where I am not invited so my perspective can be heard.”

Local activist Violet Evergarden told the crowd about her life as a trans woman living in Kingston, and how love encouraged her to embrace her female spirit.

“I’m really looking forward to letting people know that being a transgender female has always been okay. People here in Kingston, the biggest thing is they see it as a taboo. It's not,” Evergarden said in an interview with The Journal.

“[Being a transgender woman] is okay. I'm in the process of correcting my body to match my female spirit.”

Evergarden is passionate about diversity in the workplace. She emphasized the importance of having diverse staff in places helping Kingston’s most vulnerable people, such as at shelters for Kingston’s unhoused. 

“As someone who is currently homeless, I have met more people who understand me sitting around a fire than I have walking down Princess Street,” Evergarden said in her speech. “No one should hate other women for being powerful.”

Lisa Cadue, an Indigenous activist and entrepreneur, closed the event with a song she said helps keep Indigenous women strong.

“It’s hard as a Mohawk woman, and not living on the territory, and living in the city, where it’s so hard as a woman to get started on anything,” Cadue said. “The more you try to push to get there, they try to push you back.”

Corrections

A previous version of this article had spelled Wendy Stephen's name incorrectly.

The Journal regrets the error.

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