Snow doesn’t stop advocates from 2nd annual Kagawong Women’s March

Marchers in the second annual Kagawong Women’s March gather at Aus Hunt Marina at the end of the walk. More than 20 marchers participated in spite of snow storm warnings and bitterly cold winds. photo by Lori Thompson

KAGAWONG – More than 20 advocates braved snow and cold winds to participate in the second annual Kagawong Women’s March this past Saturday. The annual women’s march is a global movement that began with a march on Washington, D.C. in January 2017 following Donald Trump’s inauguration. The goal of the annual march is to increase awareness of and to advocate for women’s issues as well as human rights, equality, tolerance and environmental issues. Millions have participated in the marches globally to date.

Organizer Meg Middleton was pleased with the turnout. “It seems we have the weather on our side every year,” she laughed, recalling last year’s walk in frigid temperatures. She organized the 2019 local march partly in response to Doug Ford’s government policies.

“There’s not really been any progress since last year,” said Ms. Middleton. “Strikes are escalating because people everywhere are desperate for change. We need global change for women but local also. Cuts to midwifery, education, addiction services, women’s services, mental health services and OSAP impact every aspect of women’s lives. There are so many issues that impact women, and services that need to be equal. We need change.”

Marchers met at Kagawong’s Park Centre beginning at 9 am to make signs. Shuttles were provided to the Main Street Café where the marchers gathered in small groups and set out, walking down the hill through the village and ending at the Aus Hunt Marina before heading back to the Park Centre to warm up with warm drinks and home baked goodies.

Sue Meert of Manitowaning almost didn’t participate because of snow storm warnings but was glad she came to offer her support. “It’s all about empowerment,” she said, “and rising above the struggles that we have day to day, juggling everything, having to live in a man’s world for so long. The fight started a long time ago for women to be equal and it’s not nearly done.”

Ms. Meert was impressed to see many men participating and supporting the march also. “There’s really great men out there,” she continued. “But I’ve also seen so many people affected by domestic abuse. I feel that women need to be reminded that they are supported, that they are strong and we’re all stronger together.”

Rick Fedec of Sudbury participated partly as a “huge thank you to the women I was mentored by” and also as tribute to the “very strong, progressive and respectful women” who raised him. Mr. Fedec marched in 2019 as well. “Why am I here? I’m here to support all the things that need to be said about women, that need to be said by women, that need to be said for women, and for men,” he explained. “I was lucky in all of my life. I’m retired now but all of the supervisors I’ve had over my career were all women. And they were absolutely brilliant people.”

“My mother came to Canada under great duress after the war. When she was a young girl she was deported to Siberia with her mother and they had to survive the conflict of World War II in Russia against their will. They never at any moment let themselves be treated as less than who they were,” he continued. “My daughter is a fantastic individual as well. She’s career minded. She’s a strong academic and she’s a wonderful nurse. She worked with Doctors Without Borders on three different missions in Africa. I do believe my wife and I have raised a person who is respectful. So that’s why I’m here. For these women.”

Kagawong teen Ethan Theijsmeijer marched with his family and appreciated hearing the stories shared by other marchers. He feels it’s important to have and participate in events such as this “where people might not know all these things that are happening. The more we educate people about these things the better.”

Several members of the Redrum Motorcycle Club agreed the march is necessary for awareness and to show support for women. “Because it’s necessary,” one said. “Sadly, it’s necessary. Every little bit helps. Because the battle isn’t over yet, is it?”

Ms. Middleton thanked everyone for coming out and gave a shout-out to helpers Barb, Susan, Mel, Jenna, Joss, Julia, Lee, Steph, Merange and Louis who all worked to make the 2020 march a success “I appreciate the enthusiasm and just the dedication of this group so give yourselves a round of applause. I want to thank everyone who helped out with this. It takes a team to make the dream.”

“I want to make one final plug for all the women’s services we have on Manitoulin,” she concluded. “I know I’m preaching to the choir but you can access Manitoulin Family Resources for services and there are just lots of ways you can help women and young girls and lift them up throughout the year. Let’s keep this moving forward.”