The March on Washington is coming to Edmonton

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St. Albert activist Ranya El-Sharkawi plans to attend

A march for the rights of women and minorities will take place in Edmonton this weekend.

St. Albert activist Ranya El-Sharkawi will head to the legislature building on Saturday along with another 1,000 expected activists to take part in a global protest known as the March on Washington. The protest is planned against hate speech stemming from the American election.

Organizers of the local march have stated the event is not anti-Trump but rather an opportunity to advocate for the rights of women. The group aims to be non-partisan.

“The purpose of this protest is really just taking a stand in support of women’s rights regardless of race, religious relation, political affiliation or sexual orientation,” El-Sharkawi said. “It is going to be non-violent, inclusive and intersectional and is not just for women to attend.”

Despite the fact that the election happened in a different country El-Sharkawi said the issues raised during the campaign are global problems.

“I think it’s important because we are not immune to the same racism, xenophobia, homophobia, anti-Semitism, hate crimes and hate speech here in Canada,” El-Sharkawi said. “These issues can happen anywhere and they happen here.”

For the 20-year-old El-Sharkawi, the issue feels more personal. She spent the last four months working in Washington as a legal research intern for the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. She saw the election and controversy unfold from the eye of the storm. El-Sharkawi was sad to leave the city and not be able to protest the election, but was happy to find out that a protest was planned in Edmonton.

“I’m excited to participate to stand up for what I believe in for oppressed minority groups here in Canada.,” El-Sharkawi said.

The St. Albert activist hopes the event will help send the message that hate speech can have serious consequences.

“Derogatory hate speech and rhetoric is not just locker room talk and we shouldn’t dismiss it as such,” El-Sharkawi said. “Hate speech turns into hate crimes. I want people to take away the seriousness of this.”

The original movement was started by a retired attorney and grandmother in Hawaii who asked her Facebook friends if they would interested in protesting the Trump inauguration. Since the original post the protest has gained worldwide attention.

Protests like the one in Edmonton are being planned across the globe for this weekend. Over 600 protests are being planned worldwide with 1.3 million people expected to attend. Twenty-two are taking place across Canada with three in Alberta. Edmonton along with Calgary and Lethbridge will host events on Saturday.

The hour-long Edmonton event kicks off on Saturday at 1 p.m. with feature speakers, poets, activists, academics and indigenous leaders. After the planned presentations the group will take a short walk around the legislature fountains.

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Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2016. She writes about municipal, provincial and federal politics; court and crime; general news and features.