The city seemed quiet, a few women with signs walked along Cordova Street – an indicator that we were close to the gathering place for the Woman’s March at the Olympic Cauldron.
As we loaded up the parking meter, an Asian woman in a red Cooper parked behind us. She saw our signs and asked, in accented English:
“Where do we go?”
We pointed towards the water, down Bute Street while she explained that she couldn’t just stay home, she needed to do something – and it was her first time expressing her personal views in a public way.
Tears came to my eyes.
We set off for the plaza together, but became separated as the crowd grew. Getting closer to the action, we heard singing – The Heels (a North Vancouver group) – serenaded us as we weaved our way through the throng of bodies to get a better view of the singers.
Becoming a part of the massive rally at Jack Poole Plaza, we realized the number of people participating had surpassed the 2,000 expected. Girls, teens, women, seniors (grey-haired-hearing-aided- women), millennials (one on stilts), boys, tall men (claustrophobic when standing behind) – all gathered to voice their concerns, opinions, discontent, and agitation.
Me, my partner and daughter blended into the crowd, carrying our hastily made signs, which read: The best protection a woman can have is courage (Stanton quote), #Sad (T****’s favourite Twitter sentiment); Girls are strong, girls are great, Girls have the power to take away hate!!! (modified Ivy and Bean chant) – (me, my partner, and my daughter’s slogans, respectively).
A mist shrouded the snowy mountains behind the women speakers who were invisible to most of the crowd – voices drifting in the air.
The indigenous speakers made us consider the land we stood on – Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Territories – and the tragic fate of many indigenous women (Highway of Tears – Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert) and the lack of respect for people as minorities (Mexican-Canadian woman spoke of many injustices against immigrants) – sad that our country wasn’t as respectful as everyone made it out to be. And the 8 men who have more wealth than half the poorest people of the world – it got heavy, but more importantly it made me think.
After over an hour standing and listening, my daughter needed a snack and said: “my legs hurt.” I thought it would be a small gathering and we would be marching by now. We finally started walking after a few fist bumps and rally cries – we were moving – turning like a large ship – towards Burrard Street. It took us fifteen minutes to move half a block – we had to leave before there were more tears. We added our presence to the voices of discontent. It felt right.
The speakers asked: “what are you going to do to continue this momentum?”
I wasn’t sure.