Women’s March in Victoria calls for equality

About 200 to 300 women, men and children gathered at the legislature lawn Saturday morning to send the message that women and marginalized groups are still fighting for an equitable society.

The fourth annual Victoria Women’s March was one of more than a dozen taking place across the country. This year’s demonstration emphasized the fact that Indigenous peoples face higher rates of violence and discrimination.

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The annual January demonstrations were sparked by the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump in January 2017. Hundreds of thousands of people attended the first women’s march in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2017 — one day after Trump took office — to protest the president, who has bragged about using his star power to grope women without their consent.

Thousands attended the first march in Victoria in January 2017, fuelled by anger and fear over Trump’s election.

The group was noticeably smaller this year, with between 200 to 300 people marching on Government Street from the legislature to Centennial Square, but organizers and marchers said passion was out in full force.

While marches in the U.S. are more about protesting Trump, Victoria’s event highlighted Canadian issues such as missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Tara Lee brought her four-year-old daughter to the event to show her that women can do anything.

“My daughter once said to me: ‘Only boys can be bosses,’ and I have no idea where she got that from. So we’ve been talking about how boys and girls are equal in our country. We’re here to experience that,” Lee said.

Dagmar Schroeder, 76, marched because she thinks it’s important to support the fight for equality. She and her friend Cory Greenlees travelled to Seattle for the march in 2017.

“We wanted to be here again today, as it’s just as much necessary now as it was then for women to speak out and to bring the issues that especially pertain to women to the fore,” Greenlees said.

Members of Access B.C., a Victoria-based grassroots campaign to bring free prescription contraception to all British Columbians, were at Centennial Square encouraging people to write letters to their MLAs on the issue.

The group is calling on the government to ensure the 2020 budget includes provisions to provide prescription contraception at no cost.

“If you’re a fiscal conservative, this saves the government $90 million. If you want to fight for equality, this increases equality. If you care about maternal health — which you should — this does that too. It’s a no-brainer,” said campaign chair Teale Phelps Bondaroff.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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