I watched with hope and optimism for a Clinton victory on election night. As the results started to come in, and the reality of a Trump victory became inevitable, the seedling of fear in my stomach grew. Admittedly, I am not well-versed in American politics or Republican versus Democratic policies and platforms. That was not the cause for my pit. What upset me was that the democratically elected leader of one of the world’s most powerful nations ran on a platform of hate and won. The most frightening truth about his victory was that his millions of supporters were willing to overlook and in some cases, outright support, his racist, misogynistic, homophobic and offensive message for change.
The pit overflowed into tears as I listened to Hilary’s concession speech. I watched and read, in absolute disbelief, the news of hateful and violent incidences that were occurring south of the border, and here at home. My fears were coming true.
I identify as a woman of colour, an activist, an advocate of human rights and every part of my feminist being has been hurt and offended by this man and his supporters. I’m not alone. The people who rose up after the election results do not want a leader who incites hate and divides communities. Millions around the world participated in sister marches because they wanted to send a clear message: love will triumph over hate.
The march gave people a positive way to take meaningful action while standing in solidarity with the groups that have been attacked, insulted and dismissed. It also provided a message of inclusion and unity as an antidote to the anger and hate that coincided with the election.
Canadians rallied together and successfully managed to organize 30 marches across the country. Organizers and marchers were inspired by what happened in the U.S. election; to stand up and vow that we won’t let that happen here. Trump’s style of politics, simply put, is anti-Canadian. We have recently begun to work on creating a country that is more inclusive. Now more than ever, we must try with all our might to achieve equality and equity for marginalized groups. We do not want to be divided and othered.
After the election I felt compelled to take action. The march in Toronto was born out of a desire to stand firm in our values. We marched in solidarity with the women and allies in Washington but also wanted to remind our Canadian politicians that divisive politics will not be tolerated or accepted here. The Toronto March also used the opportunity to discuss local issues that are impacting marginalized groups in the city. Over 60,000 people came from across the GTA and beyond and left inspired.
I’ve always wondered what it would have been like to be present in the feminist rallies of the ‘70s and ‘80s. The feeling of sisterhood, invoking change, demanding justice and equality must have been invigorating. Some women on Toronto’s Women’s March committee lived through it and said they haven’t seen people rallying like this in years. I am proud to say that I helped organize a gathering that moved people from all walks of life to participate and mark the beginning of a new era of change.
There are many beautiful places in the U.S. that I hope to visit someday. But I do not feel safe or welcome there right now. Words matter. They invoke emotion and inspire action. His words were, and continue to be offensive. I helped organize the sister march in Toronto because I want everyone in Canada to feel included, appreciated, heard and valued. And I do believe we can get there.