Saultites gathered in front of the Court House on Saturday afternoon, joining people all over the globe, to march for their rights and democracy, worker’s rights, civil rights, disability rights, Indigenous people’s rights, LGBTQIA rights, immigrant rights and environmental justice.
This event, put on by the Sault Ste. Marie District Labour Council and OPSEU Region Six, is the first march in Sault Ste. Marie, but the third international march for this cause.
Their march took them down Queen St., past MPP Terry Sheehan’s office, down Bruce St., down Bay St., and up Elgin St., past MP Ross Romano’s office, finally convening at Shabby Motley’s for some free hot chocolate and conversation.
“I want (women) to (come away from this) feeling empowered,” organizer Ashley Gapp said in an interview with ONNTv’s Lou-Anne Young prior to the event. “I want them to recognize that they’re coming together with like-wise people, and it’s everyone. It’s inclusive.”
Gapp said that, despite the controversy with the Women’s National March, the Canadian March is separate and has branched away from the national march.
“We want to let people understand that we are not for anti-semitism or any kind of racism,” she explained, “and right now the leaders of (the national march) are going through some scrutiny for that, and we take that very seriously, those allegations.”
Due to this, many marches both in Canada and U.S., as well as Globally, have separated themselves from the National March.
Gapp said the organizers of the local march want to focus on being inclusive and letting the community know everyone is welcome.
“We want to make sure that people recognize that this march in Sault Ste. Marie is focused on things that are for our community members,” Gapp said. “We want to make sure that we’re allied together to empower our community members and make change and awareness.”
Gapp encourages people who may not be aware of resources available to them to come out to events such as this one.
“There are so many resources, and if you can’t get out there and can’t access them it’s hard,” she said. “But if you come out to these things, we will be more than happy to (help). We’re handing out flyers, we’re handing out all kinds of resources, and we’re going to be there to answer your questions.”
Gapp said they want the community to know that “we’re here for all people.”
“So there’s going to be everything for everyone.”
Watch the full interview here.