When Adelle Stewardson took her 11-year-old daughter on a trip to New York City last January, she had no idea it would morph into a life-changing journey.
They were there to see the Broadway musical Wicked, but just happened upon the city’s massive Women’s March taking place at the same time.
“We were right there, so we decided to take part,” said Stewardson, pointing to the 200,000-strong crowd that took to the streets, for the second straight year — a protest spurred by the election of President Donald Trump and fuelled by the #MeToo movement — in support of women’s equality, human rights, health care reform, immigration reform, reproductive rights, and other issues.
“It was such a wonderful feeling of solidarity; very heartwarming to see so many allies there, recognizing that we still need to fight for equality.
“We are still not there yet. We are surrounded by inequality – especially racialized women, women in poverty, LGBTQ women and women with disabilities.”
Stewardson returned home with a renewed sense of purpose; she wanted to start a movement in Sarnia-Lambton, so she reached out to a few women in the community, and started brainstorming ideas.
Together, they’ve launched the Sarnia-Lambton chapter of Women’s March Canada – a national movement with a mission to “unify and empower everyone who stands for human rights, civil rights, and social justice for all.”
They’ll join nine other official Women’s March Canada chapters across Canada, including Brantford, Waterloo, Ottawa, Saskatchewan and Victoria.
“The support has been overwhelming,” Stewardson said of the grassroots local group, which planned to make its public launch at the Labour Day parade.
With education and awareness campaigns in the works – all centred around the group’s core values of women’s rights, known as H.E.R.S
(health, economic security, representation and safety) – their efforts will culminate in an official March planned for Saturday January 19, 2019, to coincide with Women’s March events across the globe.
Details of the Sarnia march event are still in the works and will be announced soon.
“We really want to get positive messaging out there; encourage the youth, and work towards equality for all women,” said Stewardson.
“This is just the start of our chapter, and we invite everyone to join us on January 19.
“We have come a long way, but we’ve got a long way to go.”