April 23rd, 2017

Local march to support women’s rights


By Villeneuve, Melissa on January 18, 2017.

Patti Johnsen, left, knits a Òpink power pussyhatÓ at Drunken Sailor on Tuesday as Kareen Haan, Loralee Edwards and Doreen Brazier work on posters in preparation for the Women's March on Washington - Lethbridge Solidarity event taking place Saturday. Herald photo by Tijana Martin @TMartinHerald

Melissa Villeneuve

Lethbridge Herald

mvilleneuve@lethbridgeherald.com

They’re pink, they’re purr-ty, and dozens of women hope to wear them in a powerful show of solidarity for women’s rights in Lethbridge on Saturday.

The gathering is one of more than 600 across the globe in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, supporting women’s rights as human rights.

A steadily growing group of advocates hope the power of collective action, and the “pink pussyhat,” will show their sisters in Washington, D.C., and around the world, that they’re not alone.

The Women’s March on Washington – Lethbridge Solidarity Gathering is scheduled Saturday from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Anyone who supports women’s rights are welcome to attend the gathering, which will take place along the intersection of Mayor Magrath Drive and 9 Avenue South (near Henderson Park).

It’s a non-partisan, inclusive, grassroots initiative involving diverse members of the community coming together, said Shannan Little, one of the organizers. The gathering is intended to stand up against racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and “some of this othering of people for political gain.”

“We’ve recently really seen a rise in the politics of intolerance in Alberta and Canada, so we’re very concerned about that, and this provides us an opportunity to express this concern, which is more local than what some may be seeing as happening in the United States,” said Little. “This kind of thing doesn’t know borders.”

A group of women gathered to create signs and knit “pussyhats” on Tuesday afternoon at the Drunken Sailor downtown.

The “pussyhat,” a pink knit hat topped with corners to resemble ears, has become a popular show of defiance against the U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. Thousands are expected to be wearing them this weekend when they descend on Washington. Many will be wearing them in Lethbridge as well.

Patti Johnsen, president of the Canadian Federation of University Women Lethbridge & District, is one of a group of ladies knitting the hats.

“The pink pussyhats are hopefully going to be a sea of pink. We’re knitting as many as we can and our fingers are going as fast as they can,” said Johnsen. “We can show our solidarity by knitting the pink pussyhats and hopefully they catch the spirit of us here.”

When she first learned the election results, Johnsen felt “incredible sadness” for the United States and the uncertainty of women’s rights and what the future holds.

“(The gathering) sends a message to the new incoming president-elect and his administration that we’re here. We’re powerful. We women here are powerful.”

Loralee Sand Edwards, owner of Drunken Sailor, has opened up the store for those who want to collaborate and create signs for the event. Edwards believes in providing a safe space for women, and her store’s principles include supporting women and human rights.

“I wasn’t sure in the beginning how utilized it would be, but it sounds like people are quite excited,” she said. “There’s something about people gathering together, not just on Saturday for the March, but before that. Women supporting each other is just very powerful.”

That networking and empowerment is key to opening conversations about the cause and what’s happening locally and internationally.

“That time to be able to sit and talk and create together will be, to me, as important as the March. That’s why I wanted to provide a space.”

Anyone can come during regular store hours to create, she said. Drunken Sailor is open until 6 p.m. today and until 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

“I hope when people are driving by (on Saturday) they see that these issues are not resolved. That we live in a very conservative backlash time,” said Edwards. “All of a sudden now there’s kind of this open racism and misogyny that’s happening and that’s scary. I think that’s why women want to come together and make people aware of it and say … we need to stop it.”

In many ways, they’ve already achieved the goal of this movement with “the networks that we’re reinforcing and the empowerment occurring through the call to action,” agreed Little.

Lethbridge is a city that bands together when it comes to inclusion and human rights, and Little isn’t surprised by the response she’s received to attend the event.

“We have a good history of coming together to promote the common good in Lethbridge,” she said.

Those who wish to join are asked to meet at the east side of Mayor Magrath Drive near 9 Avenue South (park at west end lot of Henderson Lake). Participants are invited to bring signs, music, songs and positive energy, and are reminded to dress for the weather.

Follow @MelissaVHerald on Twitter

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