Nanaimo Women March On was held downtown, with a march from Maffeo Sutton Park and then speeches and more at the Nanaimo Entertainment Centre. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo women look for forward steps at march

Nanaimo Women March On held downtown on Saturday

Women and those who care about women motivated and inspired one another today in Nanaimo.

Nanaimo Women March On was held downtown, with a march from Maffeo Sutton Park and then speeches and more at the Nanaimo Entertainment Centre.

The intent of the march was not only to to speak out against violence against women, but also call for greater equality for all women.

“For years we have been faced with the widespread belief that women have achieved equality, however, every day, we are faced with evidence to the contrary,” said Lesley Clarke, executive director of the Nanaimo Women’s Resources Society. “It’s evidenced in the choices being made in leadership and it is evident in the conditions of the lives of women here and across the world.”

Clarke said inequality continues to prevent Canadian women from fully participating in society and excelling. To be a feminist, she said, is to support equality, human dignity and self-determination.

“Gender inequality is not self-correcting. The solution is not to give it more time to be patient, to let it unfold,” Clarke said. “We need to make a conscious effort to produce the conditions in which women have the agency to create change they need to thrive.”

At the Nanaimo Entertainment Centre, red dresses were hanging around the podium and there was a minute of silence for not only missing and murdered indigenous women, but also non-indigenous girls and women from Nanaimo.

“We should not underestimate the power of these feelings, because these feelings are what connect us all as a people,” said Justice Chalifoux, activist, adding that denial brings comfort but not change. “There’s been too much silence so we all have to rise up and we have to be loud and make ourselves known.”

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Lauren Semple, one of the co-organizers of Nanaimo Women March On, thanked all who participated and said they are “incredible fighters,” activists, advocates and front-line workers fighting for women and the rights of women.

“This is strength,” she said. “This energy, this passion, when we organize in these numbers, to me, this is what strength looks like.”

RELATED: Nanaimo Women March On with a message that matters

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

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