News / Ottawa

Ottawa rally against intolerance planned for Trump inauguration

Women’s March on Washington highlights issues at home and abroad.

Catherine Butler is organizing a rally in Ottawa to protest president-elect Donald Trump's inauguration.

Dylan C. Robertson

Catherine Butler is organizing a rally in Ottawa to protest president-elect Donald Trump's inauguration.

Catherine Butler recalls feeling shell-shocked the morning after Donald Trump was elected U.S. President.

On her drive to work, Canadians phoned into a radio show to support a man who plans to ban Muslims and build a wall at the Mexican border.

“He was openly racist, openly sexist, openly sexually abusive,” says Butler, an Ottawa nurse. “The divisiveness and hate needs to be countered.”

That’s why Ottawa is now among scores of cities worldwide hosting rallies against intolerance on January 21, just as Trump takes his oath of office.

Last year, feminist groups in Washington, D.C. took aim at Trump’s comments about women, including when he suggested fellow men “grab them by the p---y.” They now expect between 100,000 and 200,000 people to congregate near the U.S. Capitol for the Women’s March on Washington.

The event has sparked spinoffs in 20 countries. Since Butler started the Ottawa event’s Facebook page on December 14, 50 people have marked themselves as attending, including someone travelling from northern New York State to the closest event.

The self-described “hardcore feminist” is taking days off work to organize the rally, which she hopes to host on Parliament Hill.

“This isn’t an anti-Trump march; this is about mobilizing people who are worried about the freedoms that women have,” says Butler, who worries about The Donald’s associates aiming to curtail abortion access, and the President-elect’s support for torture interrogations.

She’s also alarmed by hate crimes that followed Trump’s election, like when hate messages and swastikas were spray-painted on Ottawa synagogues and churches.

“There’s a lot of people here who feel so strongly about the need to send a message,” said Butler.

She is crowdfunding in the hopes of raising $10,000 for acoustics, printing, security if needed and an indoor place for warmth. She’ll donate any unused contributions on the Go Fund Me page to an Ottawa women’s shelter.

She hopes the protest will bring more than just white, middle-class women like herself. “We have a desire to stand with anybody whose human rights are being impacted.”

Butler is bracing for blowback. When the handful of people co-ordinating rallies in 14 Canadian cities were profiled in an article, Internet trolls were quick to respond.

“The comments that came in were some of the most hateful, divisive, misogynistic crap.”

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