Women from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows felt like part of history as key organizers of the Women’s March Vancouver on Saturday.
It attracted an estimated 15,000 people and was part of a worldwide protest that rippled from the 500,000-strong Women’s March in Washington, which followed the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday.
“It was a wonderful day,” said Maple Ridge resident Bodil Geyer, who was in charge of logistics for the march that took protestors from Jack Poole Plaza to the Trump Tower on West Georgia Street.
“It all came together and we got five or six times the number of people we anticipated.”
After the speeches and the march, the organizers went to lunch, got out their phones, and watched clips of the protests worldwide.
“We all just looked at each and were like, “’Wow, we pulled this off,’” said Geyer.
There were about 550 marches planned in the U.S. and 168 in 81 other countries. Worldwide participation has been pegged at between 3.3 and 4.6 million, estimated by Jeremy Pressman, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut.
Even the lower figure would make it the largest-ever protest in the U.S.
Women donned pink knitted “Pussyhats” and marched with placards.
Similar marches took place in cities and towns across B.C. with more than 2,000 protesters in Victoria and smaller events in Castlegar, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, Prince George, Salmon Arm and on Salt Spring Island.
Although she has lived in Canada since 1974, Geyer has been here as an American citizen with permanent resident status. Her father was a Vietnam War veteran who went AWOL and hid in Sweden for eight years, and where she was born.
“I was raised in a hyper-political environment,” she said.
After Trump’s election, she started the process of becoming a Canadian citizen.
“The stench of corruption and collusion is palpable,” Geyer said.
Lisa Langevin, an electrician from Pitt Meadows, was also a march organizer.
Langevin said it was not to be a march to protest the presidency of Trump, but about standing up against sexism, racism and all other forms of discrimination.
“It’s important to me that every citizen around the world stand up against these attitudes. It’s important that we stand up against it around the kitchen table, or at the boardroom table,” she said.
For her, the moment that made her want to take action was watching Trump mock a disabled New York Times reporter.
“He mocked a person with disabilities in a way that I haven’t seen since grade school,” she said.
She said Trump’s sexism and attacks against immigrants cannot be allowed to be normalized.
“It’s up to every citizen to stand up.”
Will it make a difference?
“I think it already has made a difference,” Langevin said.
March organizers are taking part in a national call this week to organize 100 days of action, to keep the momentum they started on Saturday.
“He (Trump) can expect to have a constant state of protest,” said Geyer.
Geyer has a daughter Greta who is in Grade 5 at Albion Elementary, and has already been bitten by the political bug.
“She was Donald Trump for Halloween.”
Geyer’s husband Darren MacLellan recorded news of the marches from around the planet, including Vancouver. Saturday evening they sat down to watch the worldwide protest, with Greta wearing a pink pussy hat.
“Her mom had helped make it happen.”