A diverse crowd of more than 150 people gathered downtown Saturday morning for the second annual Women’s March. The event began with impassioned speeches by a few local female leaders and each speaker had a strong focus on how issues of equality intersect with women’s rights.
Margaret Vickers Hyslop, one of TRU’s elders in residence, opened the ceremony. Hyslop called for a moment of silence “to remember all those who were murdered, abused, or are missing” and asked that “we be inspired to know what we can do to help all the families of missing and murdered women in this country, as well as other countries.”
TRU professor Kirstin McLaughlin also called attention to the difficulties faced by indigenous women. “Today I challenge all of us to reflect upon our own social location and the ways in which we can promote a culture of compassion, cooperation and celebration amongst women, as opposed to one of competition, criticism or critique,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin, who is also the president of the Kamloops Pride Club, then asked those in attendance to think about how they could be better allies to those affected by colonialism, racism, ableism and homophobia. These sentiments were echoed by Ashton Brenna Wright, the vice president of the TRU Pride club.
“Speak your truth,” Brenna Wright said, “the world needs to hear more of what you have to say.”
Inequality in the workforce was also a prominent topic, particularly by speaker Barb Nederpel, the President of the Kamloops & District Labour Council.
“After decades of advancements, we still have not broken the barriers to equality and parity in all things,” she said.
Nederpel went on to point out recent policy changes across Canada that could benefit women if brought to BC, such as affordable childcare options and paid leave for women escaping domestic abuse.
Many of the attendees stated hope that through Women’s Marches and other advocacy, Kamloops could become a more inclusive place.
“I have two little girls and I don’t want them to have to deal with the same things that I’ve had to,” said Kamloops local, Sandra Bandura. “I think education is going to be the key to making real change.”
The sentiment was mirrored by Kelly Therrien, whose passion stems in part from many years working with survivors of domestic abuse.
“I’m here with my son and I think it’s equally as important for us to get our male and female children out,” Therrien said. “It hasn’t always been this good and hopefully it will be way better in the future as well. But I hope he’s a voice one day for women’s rights.”
For TRU Journalism student Megan Cary, the march was crucial to attend.
“Sometimes as a second year thing, the movement can die out a little bit, so I think it’s important to give continuous support,” she said. “I hope to see more TRU students next year. We have to keep speaking out.”
Photos by Juan Cabrejo