Women Rise, Fight, Dance! March 8, 2013 in Montreal

Front banner-gCrédit photo : Joel Lemay, Agence QMI

Over 800 women and allies marched in downtown Montreal on the evening of March 8,  2013, to the theme of Women Rise Up Against the Violence!  This was the 13th consecutive annual rally organized by the collective called the March 8 Committee of Women of Diverse Origins (WDO).

Speaking on behalf of the organizers, Marie Boti and Jasmin DelaCalzada called on demonstrators to join their sisters around the world in demanding an end to the violence – against women, the poor, the marginalized, indigenous populations, minorities and the environment and to oppose militarization, wars and occupation.

« We target those responsible : patriarchal capitalism that places the profits of the ruling class above all else, with no regard for the impact on human beings or the natural environment; we target imperialism which ensures the domination of the 1% over the 99% of the world, through war, invasions and occupations, and the pillage of the resources of the planet. »

The marchers commemorated three Kurdish women activists : Sakine, Fidan and Leyla, who were gunned down in Paris in January, and community activist Christina Jose, assasinated in Davao southern Philippines on Monday, the 4th day of women’s month.

Boti told the crowd that the women invited to speak tonight are « steeped in some of the most crucial issues of our time. We believe that every issue is a women’s issue ! »

The speakers at the rally before the march got underway included :

– Melissa Mollen Dupuis, Québec spokesperson of the First Nations movement Idle No More,
– Shipra Barua  of the South Asian Women’s Community Centre
– Alexa Conradi,  President of the Fédération des Femmes du Québec
– Viviana Medina of the migrant justice group Mexicanos Unidos para la Regularizacion
– Esther Paquette of the militant student alliance Association pour une solidarité syndical-étudiante (ASSÉ )
– Marie-Hélène Arouba, coordinator of the unemployed rights Mouvement autonome et solidaire des sans-emplois
– Maya Khamal Robin-Ghanie, of the organisation Missing Justice for murdered and disappeared indigenous women.

To warm up the crowd on the chilly evening, the Philippine women’s organization PINAY, performed a flash dance “One Billion Rising” to the tune and choreography of their sisters of GABRIELA Philippines, and the indigenous women drummers of ODAYA (Anik Sioui, Emilie Monnet et Nahka Bertrand) sent the march off with their rousing drumbeats.

Colourful banners and placards were on display throughout the march, behind the head banner which read : FEMMES DEBOUT : CONTRE LA VIOLENCE DES OPPRESSEURS! (Women Rise Up- Against the violence of the oppressors)

Many wore the purple armband with the logo of the International Women’s Alliance, of which WDO is a founding member. The Alliance has some 100 groups in over 20 countries, and its banner was also visible in the march.

The march snaked up the hill to Sherbrooke St. and down St-Denis, stopping in front of the Agence de Santé et Sécurité social, the government agency that has been cutting back on funding to women’s groups and most recently administering cuts to welfare benefits.

A message was read from the Front commun des personnes assistées sociales : « Today, March 8, I want to share my tears of rage and despair for what women are going through as a result of their oppression. I sometimes cry for political reasons, and this week I shed hot tears after the PQ government announced its cutbacks to social assistance. I felt my heart would burst at the thought of all the additional suffering this would cause. We must fight to stop these attacks against women and social welfare recipients! » she said, to cheers and applause.

Rousing chants were kept up throughout the demonstration, including :

Women Unite, Take Back the Night!
So so so solidarité   Avec les femmes du monde entier
ASSEZ BONNES POUR TRAVAILLER, ASSEZ BONNES POUR RESTER!
(GOOD ENOUGH TO WORK, GOOD ENOUGH TO STAY!)
De l’argent pour les écoles, pas pour les monopoles!
(Money for schools, not the monopolies!)
From Philippines to Ecuador, Canadian Mines have got to go!
Viva Viva Palestina!

Solidarity evening

When the march finally reached the hall  for the Solidarity evening of speaches and cultural presentations, there was food and coffee awaiting. First to address the crowd was an international guest,  Lolita Chavez of the K’iche’ People’s Council of Guatemala on tour with the Projet Accompagnement Québec-Guatemala (PAQG). She spoke about the ravages caused by Canadian mining companies in her homeland and the front line role of women in the struggle to oppose them.

Other speakers included:

– Fiel Salazar of PINAY (Organisation des Femmes philippines du Québec)
– Ariane Duplessis of MCVI – Movement against rape and incest
– Egyptian activist and journalist Lillian Boctor and Eman Soltan, president of the Association of Egyptians in Montreal
– Ariane Bouchard of the Front féministe prolétarien révolutionnaire–
– Amy Darwish of the Anti-Israeli Apartheid Week
– Mélanie Lamonde of GRILA (Research and information group for African liberation)
– Solidarity Across Borders

The speeches over, the crowd were soon swaying and dancing to an exciting list of cultural presentations including :

– The One Billion Rising dance by PINAY
– Iranian women dancers, and Iranian girls with traditional dances
– Bollywood–style dancers
– Maria Nel Calaycay – sings a well-know Filipino women’s song Babae Ka
– Gabby Hook, singer-songwriter and member of MCVI performed some original songs
– Carole Naom, the Zumba instructor and Amani, the Bollywood dance instructor were irresistible and many joined in enthusiastically to the infectious rhythms.

The evening was MC’d in French and English by two of the newest members of the WDO : Olga, a secondary 5 student and Carole, an intern with Immigrant Workers’ Centre. They wound up the evening with closing speeches about all they had learned and inspired all those present.

Everyone agreed it was an inspiriing event, and were pleased to see the widespread media coverage the event received. Please see the links below.

CBC News:

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/ID/2341659662/

CTV news write-up on the IWD in Montreal:

http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/hundreds-march-downtown-to-protest-violence-against-women-1.1188902

TVA tv news

http://tvanouvelles.ca/lcn/infos/regional/montreal/archives/2013/03/20130308-211437.html

Le Devoir article

http://www.ledevoir.com/societe/actualites-en-societe/372874/les-droits-avant-les-traditions

Pinay leads OBR dance on the streets of Montreal:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=BnzE18JqrLk

Facebook IWD Montreal 2013 Photo Album:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200369397292500.1073741825.1082183459&type=1

Facebook video Pinay Montreal OBR:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10200369472574382

Facebook video young Iranian dancers:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10200369707020243

Facebook video Anakbayan Montreal sings Babae Ka:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10200369806742736

Facebook video South Asian Women’s Community Centre dances Bollywoood:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10200369882744636

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