By Nelia Raposo
Emily Andras thought she was one of few people walking through blowing snow for the International Women’s Day rally last Saturday.
“I will be totally stunned if people are marching anywhere,” said Andras, 23, a Ryerson radio and television arts (RTA) student, on her way to the rally.
Andras’ hunch was right. The march to Nathan Phillips Square scheduled to take place after the rally was cancelled because of the snowstorm. But about 1,000 people gathered at the University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall for the rally, organized to unite women from different communities.
The crowd, mostly women, spent almost four hours listening to female speakers talk about how capitalism oppresses women and allows sexism.
“We talk about fighting for services and support, [but] we are fighting the globalization of the capitalist agenda. We cannot be afraid,” said Joan Grant-Cummings, president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC).
The march wasn’t the only thing cancelled this year. For the past 18 years, a fair has been held at Ryerson celebrating International Women’s Day, which was last Monday.
But Ryerson refused to rent space to the committee organizing the event because of incidents that happened last year. A crowd swarmed the Islamic and Iranian women’s booths and the Canadian Armed Forces booth, damaging their displays.
Daljeet Kaur, co-ordinator of the Ryerson Women’s Centre, said the university has said the fair was cancelled because of security concerns and the committee’s disorganization. “They’re trying to come up with any excuse to save face.”
Kaur said most of the tables were booked and marketing materials had been sent out when she learned the venue wasn’t available. She said the committee had already looked at ways to make sure “last year wouldn’t repeat itself,” including hiring plainclothes female security guards.
Janet Mays for Ryerson’s equity, harassment and safety office refused to comment.
Kaur said she hopes the women’s day march lands at Ryerson next year. ”It’s disappointing but definitely not discouraging,” she said. “We are already starting to organize next year’s fair.”