Naked Opinion

Our Canadian Values Are About Human Rights And Justice For All

march

The Women’s March – Toronto

Initially, I wasn’t expecting there to be a very large turnout for the march. The Facebook event had said 13,000 would be in attendance, but I’d assumed many people would bail or opt for a better use of their time for a Saturday morning. I was easily mistaken. Even from my university residence, I could see the outpouring of people walking towards Queens Park for the march. From all angles and directions, there were people pouring in, carrying signs, chatting vividly, all walking towards the Ontario Parliament building.

The speeches began with a land acknowledgment, a moment of solidarity and a showing of respect for the Indigenous communities whose land we stood on. The moment served as a brief reminder of the lingering effects of colonization and the great lengths we’d come as a progressive community to show some degree of respect and remorse for our actions hundreds of years ago.

“Our Canadian values are about human rights and justice for all.”

Taking a look around, I was pleasantly surprised to find a broad diversity of people, not just with regards to ethnicity, but gender, ages… there were even dogs among our midst. There was a joyous atmosphere in the air, but somewhat of a somber undertone, one that accompanied the realization that this entire march was fueled by sentiments of disappointment and rage, all targeted (for the most part) at Trump’s presidency.

However, the march or the speeches, at least the ones I heard, didn’t portray Trump in a particularly antagonistic fashion. He was never targeted out by name, nor was he the focal point of the march. It was rather a movement against all walks of discrimination and hatred, a movement of unity and community, not fueled by violence but rather by a yearning for peace.

The speeches also targeted Canadian issues, more specifically at times, but in general, focuses on broader themes of racism and discrimination in today’s society. An issue of particular importance and urgency to Canada is that concerning Aboriginal communities – issues ranging from mental health, food insecurity, to police brutality.

“We are here because thousands of Aboriginal women are missing or murdered. We need this to stop. We need justice. We are here because black lives are still at risk. Because indigenous and black people are over-represented in our justice system.”

I did ask myself at some points, why so many people had gathered. Trump’s presidency doesn’t appear to affect us in nearly as direct a means as it does Americans, but the issue is pertinent and alive in Canadians’ hearts.

Asking some marchers why they’d come to the event that day, their response was “for the community”. One of the speakers used the following explanation: “I march because I refuse to be silenced. We are stronger together.”

There were some more passive references to Trump throughout the speeches, including:

“Build bridges. Break down the walls in a society that stop us.”

Many of the signs, however, were attacking or refuting controversial and offensive things Trump had said in the past. A modern-day means of turning something offensive to a tool for empowerment.

“This is what community looks like. This is what diversity looks like. This is what equality looks like.”

The overpowering message and atmosphere of the day was evident, love and respect one another, regardless of any differing or clashing characteristics. To not discriminate or judge one another based on physical or superficial aspects. And most importantly, to never stop fighting for justice and equality, no matter how arduous and draining the fight may be.

 

Read more: Why I Am Not With Her

 

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About the author

Sayeh Yousefi

Sayeh Yousefi

Sayeh Yousefi, is the Editor of Naked Opinion section of The Pavlovic Today. She is a Yale Young Global Scholar 2015, and passionate human rights advocate. Throughout her life, she've had the privilege of living in many different countries, including Iran, the UAE, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Exposure to such diversity at a young age helped shape her perspective, and allowed her to be more open-minded and considerate of all different cultures and viewpoints. Throughout her life, she has witnessed injustices, whether it be on the news or in person, that have fueled her passion to help improve conditions for victims of human rights violations. Sayeh hopes to be able to encourage youth to become more involved in global affairs and become more engaged in issues of human rights and social justice. Sayeh believes this can best be done through the digital world of writing.