The day after U.S. President Donald Trump’s inauguration, millions around the world marched for women’s equality and in defense of marginalized groups — and one Prince Rupert resident traveled to the epicentre to join the crowd.
Erin Hepburn is a veteran advocate. She protested in the streets of Vancouver when President George Bush took office with her mother, Joan Miller, who often participates with her daughter in marches. When Hepburn learned of the Women’s March, she booked her flights right away.
“The new policies that are coming into play directly affect me because they affect every woman and every minority. Being a little bit of both it directly affects me. It’s offensive and it’s horrible,” Hepburn said.
As a woman and a member of the LGBT community, she said she doesn’t accept what the new president stands for. Trump has stated he wants to reverse the 2015 Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex marriage, and he has already banned federal funding to non-governmental organizations that support planned parenthood that includes the right to abortion.
“For a long time, women have been fighting and we’re going to keep fighting,” she said.
“I’ve been to a lot of marches and this was so amazing, so peaceful. I think it fueled everyone to keep the momentum going. We’re not going to accept our needs, our wants and our fundamental human rights to be marginalized.”
At 7 a.m., on the morning of the march, she arrived at Penn Station in Baltimore to catch the train to Washington, D.C. There was a sea of people in pink pussy cat hats and she thought they weren’t going to be able to get on the train in time.
When she purchased her ticket, she asked what the odds are of getting to the march on time, and the transit employee told her, “Ma’am, we are sending extra trains. We are going to get you ladies there.”
The Maryland Transit Administration had tweeted that day that they had more than doubled its capacity and would have extra cars and a train set in reserve, expecting the crowds for the march.
They only missed part of the march, and upon arrival they were bombarded with more pink hats, posters and creative chants. There were people there with disabilities and Hepburn said she saw people parting for them to allow them to pass through.
At one point, they ended up near the stage but they backed off to go to an area where they had more space to move. They took a 30 minute break to watch the crowds roll through, clogging the entire street.
Some people stood on the sidelines chanting: “Show me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like.”
Hepburn carried a sign that read: “Canadian solidarity with our American sisters.”
She wanted her American sisters to know that they aren’t alone and that there are people everywhere standing strong with them. In fact, there were sister marches in 60 countries, even one on Antarctica, and there were 3.3 million people marching in more than 500 cities across the U.S.
The following day, Hepburn and her mother went on a walking tour of the capital and the woman who gave the tour was at both the inauguration and the march. She told them that the march had significantly more people in attendance.
The New York Times reported that the Women’s March had three times the amount of people as Trump’s inauguration — 160,000 versus 470,000 in the march.
Hepburn is still riding on the high of the day, and said next time she might like to organize a similar march here in Prince Rupert.