Last weekend, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, people around the world gathered at women’s marches in the name of a wide range of issues. Equality, unity, human rights, and environmental justice, to name a few. From Washington D.C., across the United States to Haines and Skagway. In the Upper Lynn Canal, the wind blew hard and the cold was biting, but turnout far exceeded expectations.
In Haines, the crowd gathered at the Chilkat Center before heading outside. Margaret Friedenauer, one of the organizers, said she’d spoken to the police department ahead of time about how many people would be out marching.
“All I need to know is when, where, how many people you think you’ll have. I said maybe 25,” said Friedenauer.
The crowd laughed because, looking around the room, there are way more than 25 people. And even more outside. At least 150 showed up, despite strong winds and frigid temperatures.
Melissa Aronson helped with the Haines march.
“Personally, I have to say I missed the 60s,” said Aronson. “Welcome back.”
The group bundled up, put on boots and ice grippers, and marched for about a mile around Haines. Assemblyman Tom Morphet brought his trumpet.
Women, men, children and animals walked together, for many different reasons. Participants held signs that read things like “Inclusive, Diversity, Environmental Justice,” “My Body, My Choice,” and “Resist, Protect, Create.” They filled out a group poster with things like “Disability Rights Matter,” and “Make America Kind Again.”
“Equality, fairness, justice,” said Assemblyman Ron Jackson.
“We want to be all inclusive of all minorities, and we are concerned about the state of our world,” said Patty Kermoian. “And we are just here to show support and solidarity.”
“My issues are primarily healthcare, education and the environment,” said Patty Brown. “Health care including reproductive care.”
“I believe that we’re all different, yet equal expressions of humanity,” said Diane La Course.
Hannah Revenaugh-Bochart was among those marching. She said when you have a platform, it’s important to speak up.
“If you come from a place of privilege like I do, it’s really important to get the word out because we’re going to have a really rough time these next four years,” said Revenaugh-Bochart. “If you’re anything other than a straight, white male it’s going to be kind of crappy. So I figure, if you’ve got a platform to get out and speak, you have to use it. Otherwise why are we here.”
Participants looked beyond the course of Saturday’s march. Friedenauer said after it’s over, it’s important to stay active and involved.
“I think today is about realizing there are some common goals but people can find their niche and work on that the best way they can for the years to come,” said Friedenauer.
That was echoed by Aronson.
“Social justice, environmental health, economic equality, or economic sanity, all really tie together,” said Aronson. “They’re not different disparate ideas. They work together. And whatever it is that we feel like we can do, that’s what we should do.”
Aronson referred to the event as ‘2020 Foresight.’ She said it’s time to think ahead towards improving things in years to come.
Mike Denker said he joined the march for support and equality. He said keeping that message strong when the march is over requires civic engagement.
“Our closest connection to government is local,” said Denker. “So getting active on a local level with our local government. Through the assembly, through committees, volunteer on committees, attend meetings.”
In Skagway, the weather was just as challenging and the turnout similarly strong. Organizer Annie Kidd Matsov expected around 20 people, and 112 came out to march. It was cold and windy. Participants created a modular sign to lessen the impact of the gusts. Like the wind, Matsov said the march was powerful.
“I think if 2016 taught me anything it was that the vocal minority in this country can really be powerful,” said Matsov. “And so it was really great to see so much support for this issue and just to stand in solidarity with the other women and men that were our for the event. It really touched me, it was great.”
The message was clear from those marching in the Upper Lynn Canal. Their fight for equality did not end on Saturday, that was just day one.