International Women’s Day Takes to Montreal Streets
Hundreds March in Event Organized by Women of Diverse Origins
Chants like “So-so-so-solidarité, avec les femmes du monde entier” resonated throughout the busy downtown shopping centre in Montreal last night.
To mark the annual International Women’s Day, approximately 200 people gathered at Cabot Square to hear speeches, dance and listen to music, march for equality and celebrate womanhood of all backgrounds.
March 8 was declared International Women’s Day in 1910 by Clara Zetkin as a way to commemorate historic women’s rights demonstrations across the US, and to pay respects to working women around the world.
The march this year was organized by the Women of Diverse Origins, which is a local coalition and working group under QPIRG-Concordia.
It started at the square near Atwater metro and proceeded down Ste. Catherine St. E, ending at Phillips Square. A pickup truck blasting music from stereos led the procession.
— Video by Matt D’Amours
One of the coalition’s members, Dolores Chew, works for the South Asian Women’s Community Centre in Montreal. Members of the coalition work daily within their own communities to provide support and resources, she said, and they come together on commemorative dates like International Women’s Day to share and show solidarity.
It’s important to march on International Women’s Day to assert the rights to gender equality, Chew explained. She emphasized that finding equality for women is not universal, as systemic issues of racialization and poverty must be taken into consideration.
Throughout the night, the march would stop at intersections to hear speeches from various individuals in French and English. Kahawihson Horne, who is a Mohawk student at Concordia, was one of the first speakers.
Originally from Kahnawà:ke, she spoke about discriminatory incidents at Dawson College, which was the first school she went to outside of her community. She said she and some of her peers were ostracized during their studies at the CEGEP.
For one course at Dawson, she remembered a time when her professor showed the class a film about the Oka Crisis, a 78-day standoff between Mohawk activists, police and the army over land ownership in 1990.
Horne said her classmates openly felt entitled to make negative remarks throughout the film, knowing where she was from. Two semesters in, Concordia can pat itself on the back because it’s been a good experience, she joked.
There was a small force of officers on bikes and in vehicles guiding traffic. A Montreal police spokesperson said an itinerary was given by the organizers prior to the event.
With files from Matt D’Amours