Updated: Feb 15, 2022
In 2018, for the Seventeenth Year, in Montreal 8th March International Women’s Day Demonstration organized by Women of Diverse Origins Hundreds of women and their allies gathered together, despite falling snow on Thursday evening March 8th in response to the call by Women of Diverse Origins: Women Rise! Unite our Forces! Smash Patriarchy and Capitalism!
There was added significance this year, as for the first time, this year, WDO joined the 8th March Collective that includes all the major unions and the Quebec Women’s Federation – thousands of women throughout Quebec. And WDO was present in 8th March Collective actions and meetings with politicians who were presented with demands from women of Quebec. The demonstration was also promoted widely throughout the membership of the 8th March Collective.
Numbers in the demonstration were bolstered by a large contingent of students from CUTE who marched up from their earlier demonstration to join us. Women — workers, migrants, students, came out because they are fed up with sexual harassment and sexist policies, racism and the impoverishment of women and families; students came to protest against unpaid internships in professions traditionally gendered female; we demanded the $ 15 minimum wage now! And we celebrated the growing women’s movement because unity is our strength!
Above all, we came to shout out that the capitalist system and patriarchy must be defeated because they are at the root of women’s oppression. Jasmin de la Calzada and Marie-Claude Manga, spokespersons for WDO, acknowledged that we are on unceded Indigenous territory and thanked the Mohawk Nation for permitted us to live on their lands; they also recognized the significance of the gathering place, Place du 6 décembre, memorial site of the young women murdered in the massacre at École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989.
Jasmin and Marie-Claude paid homage to some of the inspiring women among us who died in the past year: Abby Lippman, professor and activist, member of WDO, Pet Cleto, journalist and activist from Gabriela (Ontario) deceased in Toronto, originally from the Philippines, Asma Jahangir, a lawyer and human rights activist, known throughout Pakistan and South Asia and around the world for her commitment to the most oppressed.
The facilitators recalled lack of justice for I Indigenous teenager Tina Fontaine, murdered in 2014, the most recent of thousands of missing I Indigenous women and girls in Canada, disappeared with impunity. They also paid tribute to the memory of the 41 girls who died a year earlier in the fire of the youth shelter, Hogar Seguro de Asunción, in Guatemala City. A minute of silence was observed in memory of all these women.
After a presentation by Jasmin and Marie-Claude (see the press release below), Leah Woolner and Claire Pageau-Lussier took over. They noted, that as feminists in struggle to make a better world, in Canada we pledge our solidarity and allyship with Indigenous women and their communities, in their struggles against centuries of colonialism, genocide and racism and we take leadership from them in this.
They then called up the speakers in turn: Gabrielle Bouchard, President of the Quebec Women’s Federation, and spokesperson for the March 8 Collective, representing 700,000 women, praised the beautiful diversity of the women present. Khouala Zoghlami of the Muslim Women’s Association spoke about the importance of opposing racism and anti-Islamic sentiments.
Women from war zones around the world spoke in turn. Zahia El-Masri, a Palestinian woman born in a refugee camp in Lebanon, spoke on behalf of the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid; Asli Ozturk of the Kurdish Women’s Association of Montreal, spoke of the courage of Kurdish women in the struggle for the survival and liberation of their people and for setting up a state with gender equality.
Dorian Desjardins-Leclerc of the national team of the Association for union-student solidarity (ASSÉ) spoke about sexual assault in the student community and Amélie Nguyen of the International Center for Workers’ Solidarity (CISO), spoke about the campaign for ILO law 189 to protect the living and working conditions of domestic workers.
Béa Di Vinci, a Filipino-American rapper, performed a spoken word piece denouncing the systemic violence against aboriginal women and girls in Canada.
Animators Jennie-Laure Sully and Bea Di Vinci then began to chant slogans as we took the streets: “In the street, as long as it takes, to oust capitalism and patriarchy!” And the marching band Chaotic Insurrection Ensemble, kicked off the march.
Under the snow in one of Montreal’s most multi-ethnic neighborhoods, accompanied by a giant puppet made by Bloc Artistes, we marched and chanted in several languages, slogans that articulated our demands and our worldview:
“Good enough to work, good enough to stay!”
“Makibaka Huwag Matakot! (In Filipino) – Fight, Don’t be afraid!”
“Viva Viva Palestina!”
“Tokolonga, E Tokologna!”
“Alerta que camina La Lucha feminista Por America latina!”
The demonstration ended at the Immigrant Workers’ Centre (IWC) where we were all welcomed with a banner drop – specially made by the IWC for 8th March 2018. After brief announcements to denounce the arrest of women in Tehran demonstrating against mandatory veil, and to congratulate the women of Kurdistan for the launch of their women’s TV network Jin TV, everyone was invited to assemble again on 8th March 2019!
// To see more pictures, please click the link below.