People gathered on Parliament Hill a week ago for the annual Women’s March, an event that began in 2017 after the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump. According to the Ottawa chapter, the organization is “is committed to challenging all forms of systemic discrimination, bias, and oppression.”

From Parliament Hill, participants marched west down Wellington Street, turned down Bank Street to Somerset Street East, then east to Elgin Street and up to Ottawa City Hall.

Elder Irene Compton sings the Eagle Song on Parliament Hill to kick off the fourth Ottawa Women’s March. [Photo © Haesun Jung]
Hundreds of demonstrators marched through downtown. “Our message to folks was, there’s so many issues to protest,” said organizer Raylene Lang-Dion. “You just come and you carry whatever sign you want, and you’re more than welcome. It’s part of an international effort, an international movement.” [Photo
© Kevin Martine]
Young women carried signs calling for equal justice for men and women. [Photo © Kevin Martine]
The march was also supported by many men, such as Alan Gemmill, who came out with his dog Sidney Crosby to watch the demonstrations. “I support all people who want equal rights,” said Gemmill. “I’m gay. And we don’t have equal rights either.” Gemmill said the government should ensure gender equality. “They need equal rights and equal pay, and the government just doesn’t want to do anything about it,” said Gemmill. [Photo © Kevin Martine]
The marchers walk past the Canadian Monument to Human Rights on Elgin Street. Organizers said that the theme of this year’s march is reproductive rights. [Photo © Haesun Jung]
The march also brought together women from diverse communities in Ottawa. A group of Latina women called for an end to violence against women in Latin America. Last year, 1,006 of 3,825 murders in Mexico were classified as ‘femicides,’ meaning the victims were killed because of their gender. [Photo © Haesun Jung]
Tanya Ruiter holds a sign, shown above, which she said was inspired by the Marvel Movie, Infinity War. “I liked it when [a character] said “she’s not alone,” because they are always together.” said Ruiter. “If we join together and help each other out then we are going to accomplish a lot more than if we try to fight by ourselves.” [Photo © Haesun Jung]
There were also calls to make elected office a better place for women. Last September, several women accused College Ward Coun. Rick Chiarelli of sexual harassment, for allegedly asking city employees to go bra-less at work related events. [Photo © Haesun Jung]
From left to right, Mayor Jim Watson, Coun. Theresa Kavanagh, Coun. Laura Dudas. Activists at the march called on the mayor to “fire Chiarelli” and work to improve the number of women on Ottawa city council. “Obviously, we have to do better,” Watson said, adding the city is developing a gender action plan due later this year. [Photo © Haesun Jung]
The March’s keynote speaker, feminist Amanda Jetté-Knox, addressed a crowd of demonstrators at city hall. “There’s no right way or wrong way to be a woman. When you start by recognizing that learning from one another and finding ways to connect, it is the healthiest path to true equity,” she said. [Photo © Haesun Jung]

Women in History

Picture of the Famous Five Monument that is located on Elgin and Wellington Street [Photo © Merna Emara]
The struggle for women’s rights has a lengthy history in Canada. Not far from where the march took place is the statue of the Famous Five, who won legal recognition for the rights of women 90 years ago. [Photo © Merna Emara]

The women featured in the Famous Five memorial are Canadian suffragists who advocated for women’s and children’s rights. The five women are Emily Murphy, Irene Parlby, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney and Henrietta Edwards, fought a lengthy legal challenge over whether the word ‘persons’ in the 1867 British North America Act also referred to women.

The Ottawa Women's Monument remembers the murdered women and girls between 1990 and 2000. [Photo © Merna Emara]
The Ottawa Women’s Monument remembers the murdered women and girls between 1990 and 2000. It was built in 1989 by the Women’s Urgent Action Committee after the Montreal massacre, in which 14 women were murdered at École Polytechnique. [Photo © Merna Emara]
Around the monument of violence against women are inscribed the names of victims of femicide. [Photo © Merna Emara]
Around the monument of violence against women are inscribed the names of local victims of femicide. Esther Carlisle was 80 years old when she was found dead at her St. Laurent Boulevard apartment in August 1997. (Esther’s name is misspelled on the monument.) [Photo © Merna Emara]