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Episode Transcript

Kasia Souchen: 00:01 Hello and welcome to 15 minutes to change the world. Where in 15 minutes. You can learn a bit more about the world and how you can help change it. My name is Kasia Souchen at CARE Canada and the host of this podcast. CARE fights poverty by empowering women and girls around the world in more than 94 countries.

Today's episode, we look at March On Canada, what began on January 21st, 2017 when a worldwide grassroots movement came together to build communities that advocate for and uphold equality, diversity and inclusion, now two years later is so much more. As a global movement Women's March Coalitions first emerged in 673 events around the world in 85 countries. Canada saw 140,000 people marching from coast to coast to coast in over 40 communities and the marches continue every year since, and the community continues to grow. But so much more than just the January march, March On uses online platform, grassroots local chapters and cross sector initiatives to advance women's rights as human rights. The March On movement has also expanded to other issues facing us all, like antisemitism and family separation.

Today I am joined by Samantha Monckton, co-founder of March On Canada and March On Vancouver. Samantha, thank you for joining us.

Samantha Monckton: 01:57 Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Kasia Souchen: 01:59 So to start us off, how did March On Canada begin? I mean, to get 140,000 Canadians mobilized on one day is no small feat. How did that all come together?

Samantha Monckton: 02:12 It actually started around 2016 for me, it was, I started to see all these events popping up in December and I, I was like, oh, maybe I should try to get involved with that. And then I started to see events popping up in Canada and I'm like, Oh, who's in charge of that? Because I knew the DC stuff is pretty solid, but I was like, who's doing Canada? So I immediately started messaging the one that was listed for Vancouver in particular, and my friend Penelope, uh, said at the time, uh, well, nobody's doing it. And I guess I said, I guess I am. She said I guess you are, and then naturally, um, I, I liked getting involved more.

So I said, well, who else has going? And she said, well, we've got these listings but you know, we have, we have yet to find people doing them. And then we just started doing that more and more. I was like putting out listings for London and just like, like a whistle at people came and they said, well, I'll organize it. So we ended up having all these people we've never been for never, most of them never done anything like this before and they just sort of organically gravitated towards the events and made them happen. So we created these sort of structures for them to be able to do all that work under.

Kasia Souchen: 03:35 That's really great and I love the story of how it really came together organically. Um, and it's quite powerful that, that you had so many volunteers. Yeah,

Samantha Monckton: 03:43 We had the on the ground volunteers, but we were just the basically the national team making it look like way more. Um, so that was pretty key, like the sort of Wizard of Oz approach. Where you don't look behind the curtain quite yet, but it made people excited about it. They saw stuff was happening even though stuff was still yet to happen. So that kind of was great. And um, like I said, we had a very amazing cross section of organizers. Um, that's still continued to this day and they come from all walks of life, but their purpose is all the same to organize in grassroots manner.

Kasia Souchen: 04:23 So that was 2016, 2017. Now we are in 2019 and many feel that the march is still very necessary. Why do you think we still need to March On?

Samantha Monckton: 04:35 Oh, well I was hoping we didn't. Um.

Kasia Souchen: 04:40 Mhm I'm with you.

Samantha Monckton: 04:42 But the worlds pretty tired because it seems like we've be running up hill, making it necessary for us to keep doing. Um, but it is very rewarding to see when you get 7,000, 10,000, 15,000 people in the same space again. That okay. Yeah, we're not quite done.

Kasia Souchen: 05:02 Yes. And I mean, we still do need to March On. And I think of as my favorite, some of my favorite signs from the marches are sort of the grandmas that are holding up signs that say things like, my arms are tired from holding this sign since the 1960s. Really sort of bringing to light how long we've been marching and protesting for, for um, various forms of equality. What are some of the main issues that Canadians are protesting, marching and making noise about? And who do you find is coming out to the marches?

Samantha Monckton: 05:36 It's very variable from province to province. I'm finding, um, we all have the same reasons to march about antisemitism because that seems to be a Canada wide issue. Um, and everybody's #metoo'd, like everybody, so that, that's around. Um, and then of course we haven't completely done right by the indigenous community, you know what I mean? Like so we, we've got a lot of Canadian things we gotta to do. So, uh, there's, there's a lot of reasons for Canadians to be worried.

Kasia Souchen: 06:08 Absolutely and who do you find is coming out or participating in some of these protests or marches that are happening?

Samantha Monckton: 06:18 Um, we have, we have everybody, I would say a majority is still, um, women identified women and a lot of kids, a lot of teens, a lot of millennial. And um, I mean there's still a lot of dudes who come out and it's great. Especially the guys who come out for the me too, stuff like showing their solidarity. So there's some really decent, um, allies.

Kasia Souchen: 06:43 One thing that definitely comes to mind to me as you explained, sort of all these different movements happening is the phrase, never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has by Margaret Mead. What are some of the results that have come from March On marches or petitions or other grassroots initiatives?

Samantha Monckton: 07:04 I think we're just galvanizing more of that support that needs to be galvanized in the nonpartisan way, I think we like focusing on the issues that are affecting people and giving the space for a voice for that, I think that that's the best thing we can do. Um, it's weird because you think that we're all doing stuff on our phones and just like sit in front of our TVs but no, people want to get outside. They want to go out in the street. They want to like create you know, a noise about something. So it's good that, um, that's our vehicle. That's what we do best.

I sure,I sure do you notice when the politicians come out there always seemed to be out on marches. Um, they're definitely taking a lot of selfies at our marches, so we hope that they, you know, um, injest some of that vibe while they're there, they need to be accountable to the, and really when they go to our marches and they're putting themselves out there in the public with people, when people are having the opportunity to see them and then hold them accountable to that say, well, you know, you came out in March about this, so you better be all standing up for that.

Kasia Souchen: 08:13 Yeah. It sort of holds them accountable.

Samantha Monckton: 08:17 Yeah. I mean, thanks. It's, it's great. Like I love it too. We don't ask them to come. Politicians will just show up and capitalize on that, which is great because we're going to make sure that we hold them accountable to it.

Kasia Souchen: 08:31 So Samantha, how can someone at home or driving in their car, who's likely now feeling inspired and who wants to do something, how can that person actually take action? What would you say are three tangible ways to get together to create change?

Samantha Monckton: 08:46 Um, one is contact March On Canada through our Facebook page or on the website marchoncanada.ca and um, let's uh, get you, give you some help to get a march started in January if you want to do one. Um, we have, uh, an excellent kit and an excellent group of organizers across the country who give each other help and advice all the time, so there's one. It'd be really great to have some new folks in any city to do, like even if it's just like walking down the street with some of your friends and some signs, there's a march, like it could be person to a thousand people and more. Um, there's also a way you can do some small actions in your community.

Hold the post, a postcard, writing party. So you just get some postcards and you either design them, simple and get them printed with your message on it or you just write postcards to your MP or your MTP or MLA and make sure that they, you know, pay attention, the issue that you want to talk about. Um, and then of course anybody can do this from anywhere but like be a social media, rock star and just amplify and participate and comment where it would help the cause. So that's, that's always amplifying is great because you can do that from anywhere at anytime. So postcards and a march if you really want to, if you're really want to get into the fun, do a march. It'll be fun they said.

Kasia Souchen: 10:23 Yeah. I can definitely say I've been to the marches twice in a row and the energy is palpable.

Samantha Monckton: 10:34 It's addictive to do those marches, I'll tell you later. So yeah, if you want to get into that energy, you can just dive right in.

Kasia Souchen: 10:42 Yeah. Yeah. Cause, I do think it's really great capturing that energy where you're surrounded by women and men who support women and all marching together all for a common purpose. All all coming together is very powerful.

Samantha Monckton: 10:56 Yeah, it really is.

Kasia Souchen: 10:56 If you were to sum up sort of the, the purpose or mission of March on the January, March, that happens, how would you define that?

Samantha Monckton: 11:07 Well, we want to again, create an environment where we are galvanizing that support on the issues that matter to everybody at a grassroots level. Like things that we know that we value as Canadians. That's kind of what the marches and up doing. They end up making people feel stronger together. And I think that that's, that's pretty important initiative to have.

Kasia Souchen: 11:34 Yes, very important.

Samantha Monckton: 11:36 I just want to thank you for all the work that you guys do. Uh, it's important that you're reaching countries that we can't right now and so keep up the good work at CARE as well. Uh, and we will continue to March On together.

Kasia Souchen: 11:50 Thank you very much Samantha, for joining us today. As the co-founder of March On, I think we're all very inspired in terms of finding ways to come together and to march together, protest together, fight together about issues that are facing us all. Thank you.

Samantha Monckton: 12:06 Thank you.