When I woke up yesterday morning, I wasn’t sure if I was going to attend the Toronto Women’s March in support of the Women’s March on Washington. I didn’t have anything important to do and remembered the people I had become friends with on Facebook who would be marching in D.C. or in a town near them and realized I couldn’t just stay home.
Heading up to Queen’s Park to the pre-march rally, it occurred to me that I was 48 days shy of my 48th birthday and heading to my very first protest. (In case you’re wondering, I don’t always countdown to my birthday. This year I happen to be excited about going to Chicago to see “Hamilton” on my birthday. Also the math is really easy in January – I was born on the 69th day of the year so I just need to subtract the date! Anyway, I digress….) There are lots of things in the world that make me angry or that I’m passionate about (plastic straws and cutlery, balloons, the environment, animals, grammar…) but I had never gotten to the point of protest. In university kids would get on buses to come to Toronto to protest the government cuts to funding but I didn’t have government grants or loans so this was never relevant to me. Also, until recently, I would not have categorized myself as political. I believe in stuff and I’m against stuff but I was never inclined to get involved in politics. That all changed on November 8, 2016.
Since I decided to go to the march at the last minute (I only found out about it a few days before….I think I was in a bubble at Disney World the week prior) I wasn’t prepared with a pussy hat like many marchers would be wearing. I remembered that my mom knit me a sweater with my two cats on it, so I wore that.
The march began with a rally with a number of speakers. Unfortunately I don’t think they anticipated the crowd they got (estimates were 60,000) and it was difficult to hear most of them. The speeches went on a little long and we got a late start marching towards City Hall.
I took this selfie in an attempt to figure out how big the crowd was. It’s really hard to get a sense when you’re in it. You have to see it from above (and when you see it from above, you can’t lie about what you see!!)
Our march took us down University Avenue past the majority of the big hospitals in the city. This was my Facebook post as we shuffled past….
Walking past all of the great Toronto hospitals thinking about all of the Americans now denied access to healthcare. #TOWomensMarch
The march was supposed to take us to the US Embassy but we were blocked from stopping in front of it by a police barricade.
At the rally I had started chatting with three people who were together so I stuck with them throughout the march. It was nice to not be alone in the crowd of thousands! I noticed a shortcut to City Hall and the four of us took it and got a decent spot beside the stage at Nathan Phillips Square.
After I got home, there were many posts on the Facebook page for the march and I managed to find myself in a few photos that were posted. In the photo below, I’m taking video of the crowd!
I wished I had been prepared for the march as I probably would have come with a sign with a quote from “Hamilton” like “Rise Up” or “This is not a moment, it’s a movement”.
These were a few of my favourite signs….
During the march, it was almost impossible to get a cell phone signal. When I got home, my Facebook feed was flooded with posts from friends who marched in Washington, D.C., Boston, Fort Worth, Fresno, Seattle, Vancouver, Chicago, Sarasota and more. It felt really exciting to be part of that somehow.
So that brings me to today. I woke up today feeling out of sorts and that feeling kept growing. I thought it was because I had so much to do and didn’t know what to do first. I cleaned my kitchen and went grocery shopping and even after knocking those two things off my list, I still felt anxious. I couldn’t put my finger on why until I was waiting for the elevator up to my apartment and started reading an article by a former Obama staffer. In the article she said “But I have a sinking feeling in my stomach about the march. Not because I am worried about the cold or the chaos. But because I worry it will give too many people license to congratulate themselves for their activism and move on with their daily lives.”
“That’s probably it.” I thought. I’m probably anxious because I’m wondering “What’s next?” The march didn’t actually solve anything. It hopefully showed the new U.S. administration that there are a lot of people across the United States and around the world who are very concerned, angry and fearful. The article went on to state “The march shouldn’t be a moment to rest and celebrate. It should be a warm up.”
I calmed my anxiety somewhat by allowing myself a day to rest and think and figure out what’s next. That day is today. After today is tomorrow. And tomorrow, we rise up and fight.