IT’S AS IF THE SONG WAS WRITTEN FOR THEM. “I am woman hear me roar / In numbers too big to ignore.” That’s what the women’s anthem I Am Woman says and that’s what the women of tiny Sandy Cove Nova Scotia proved the day of the International Women’s March on January 19.
About 50 people showed up to the village’s march this year—more than triple the number who turned up at the first march there in 2017.
The 2017 march in the village became an international internet sensation because the village is tiny and remote. There are only 65 permanent residents in Sandy Cove. The village is in Nova Scotia at the end of a long finger of land the juts into the Bay of Fundy. There is one road in and one road out.
The 2017 marchers walked that road, between the local school and the fire hall, for an hour in drizzly weather. It was enough time for two boatloads of cars to pass by after getting off the ferry that connects the communities on Digby Neck.
Kadijah Photiades was one of the people who marched in 2017. She posted a short Facebook video of the march of just 15 locals. It went viral.
It had 150,000 views the next morning and had attracted hundreds of comments. The New York Times published a photo of the Sandy Cove marchers.
Kadijah said,“One woman said she had looked at all of these marches all around the world, and it wasn’t until she saw our little tiny march in Sandy Cove that she actually burst out crying. It made my heart very happy.”
Another year, a bigger march
Local Sandy Cove march organizer Gwen Wilson says this year cars honked and onlookers cheered as the group moved down the road to demonstrate their solidarity with all the other women and men around the world marching for women’s rights on that day.
The 64-year-old retired teacher says she thinks the support in Sandy Cove shows “you don’t have to live in a big city to stand up for your beliefs.”
Wilson says the pint-sized 2017 demonstration had a “groundbreaking” impact on Sandy Cove, leading to a community-wide discussion about women’s rights that is still going on.
A number of the marchers this year wore red scarves in memory of murdered and missing Indigenous women.
The driving force behind every Women’s March is the determination to end the plague of accepted violence against women. Every woman who has been a victim of male violence has her own story. Melissa Merritt was co-organizer of the march. Her story reveals a particular small town aspect of the issue.
Melissa said she used to be in an abusive marriage, and many members of the community—including other women—turned their backs on her because of her partner’s social status.
“I was told by an older lady in the community at that time that we don’t call 911 here. I was never extended a hand for help,” she recalled.
“In my heart, I’m marching for women to lift other women up, and to educate the women that are telling other women that it’s acceptable to put up with this kind of stuff.”
This article was originally published by The Canadian Labour Institute.
Reprinted with permission for CALM Members use.