MONTREAL - Thousands of people rallied in Quebec City on June 2 and in Ottawa on June 15 to push for women's equality and express their anger at the growing conditions of poverty facing women in particular and an increasing percentage of working people today.
In Quebec City, over 2,000 women, who had spent the previous 24 hours as part of a human chain surrounding the National Assembly, joined the rally.
"I was impressed by all the people who were there," said Solange Proulx, a steelworker who was taking part in her first demonstration.
These actions were called by the National Coalition of Women against Poverty, which groups some 75 local and regional organizations. The same coalition had organized a major woman's march last year with the theme of "Bread and Roses."
Francoise David, the spokesperson for the coalition, stated, "Together we will continue to fight, to act, to explain, to convince. Fourteen times, if necessary, like the suffragettes," referring to those who led the fight to give the right to vote to women.
The Ottawa rally was the culmination of a cross-country action, billed "Women's March Against Poverty - For Bread and Roses, For Jobs and Justice." It was organized by the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). Organizers said 50,000 people participated in the whistle-stop rallies held as the march made its way to the capital.
"This whole event was inspired by what the women did in Quebec," said Zonny Woods, a young woman who helped organize the cross-Canada march.
Sunera Thobani, president of NAC, stated, "We say put the interests of women and children before the interests of banks and corporations in this country"
Contingents from many of the major trade unions were prominent in the crowd. Domenico Iozzo, a steelworker, said he turned down overtime in order to come to Ottawa. "I don't regret it for a minute. We don't like what the government is doing. Women are being treated very poorly. If we don't stand together, we're lost."
The NAC held its annual general meeting after the march. The discussion at the gathering reflected the desire of the majority to continue protest actions like the Women's March Against Poverty.
Annette Kouri is a member of the Steelworkers Union at Distex. Joanne Pritchard in Toronto and Victoria Mercer in Montreal contributed to this article.
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