N.S. village's wee Women's March captures worldwide attention

N.S. Village Womens March
The town of Sandy Cove, N.S., population 65, has been getting attention from around the world after holding one of the smallest women’s marches on Jan. 21. Photo supplied by Gary Wilson

Sandy Cove, N.S., population 65, has been getting attention from around the world after holding what must be one of the smallest Women’s Marches over the weekend.

“We just couldn’t sit by and passively observe it,” said co-organizer Gwen Quigley Wilson, who created the march on Facebook along with fellow resident Melissa Merritt.

Within 24 hours, 15 women gathered at a parking lot and began their march on the wet Saturday, up and down the main road of the town, which is about a 2.5-hour drive from Halifax.

“My first granddaughter was just born (on Jan. 17) and I thought, there’s this new little girl and what kind of world would she grow up into?” said Quigley Wilson, a retired elementary school teacher

NS Village Womens March
“It’s the availability of this technology that allows use to have this major impact, all the way from this little corner of our province.” said co-organizer Gwen Quigley Wilson about their Jan. 21 march. Photo supplied by Gary Wilson
NS Village Womens March
“It’s left me with this warm, magical feeling that you can send your message out and people will post back to you,” said organizer Quigley Wilson about the reaction from around the world.

The Sandy Bay march was photographed but also filmed on a cellphone by Kadijah Photiades. Soon, the little march that could went viral, racking up more than 160,000 views on Facebook.

Now the women are all getting messages from as far away as Ukraine.

“It just wouldn’t have happened without social media, all this attention,” Photiades told Yahoo Canada News. “I’ve been writing back to people all day and all night since it went viral.”

Photiades, who shot the seven-second video, said she makes a point of acknowledging everyone who comments on her page.

“I welcome it … I get a lot of women who are Trump supporters,” she said. “I want to see how to deal with this oppositional energy. Isn’t that the current challenge of our time?”

Photiades, who is a drum instructor and facilitator, saw the call to action on Facebook only the night before the march. But by the next day she had pulled in a friend who called in a few more, and they all drove down together and took the ferry to get to the march.

NS Village Womens March
The town of Sandy Cove, N.S. , population 65, has been getting attention from around the world after holding one of the smallest women’s marches on Jan. 21 Photo supplied by Gary Wilson

‘Availability of this technology’

The overwhelming reaction from all kinds of people around the world is “humbling,” says Quigley Wilson.

“It’s left me with this warm, magical feeling that you can send your message out and people will post back to you,” she said of the way modern technology has connected us all.

“It’s the availability of this technology that allows us to have this major impact, all the way from this little corner of our province.”

Quigley Wilson said she and the other women didn’t think it would spread so wide.

“I’m getting constant messages in my Facebook inbox like this one: ‘Cheers to you all from the heart of NYC … a Big Apple thank you!’”

The overwhelming response has put their action in perspective, she said.

“It makes me think that as an individual or as a small group of individuals, you can have an important impact,” she said. “The magnitude of the responses we’ve had shows me that through the benefit of technology, the world is a village.”

‘Strategizing’ their next moves

Photiades said she and the other women were talking and “strategizing” as they walked (as well as sounding out with chants and the bells she brought from her drumming circle classes).

“It’s good to see we are part of a bigger picture … that we are getting back a tremendous amount of love [and] we have this beautiful sense of solidarity with people everywhere,” said Photiades.

NS Village Womens March
The women who marched on Jan. 21 have pledged to keep meeting again to deal with issues in their N.S. community of 65 full-time residents. Photo supplied by Gary Wilson

It galvanized all the women — they are holding a potluck this Thursday, open to anyone who wants to attend, including those who couldn’t make it to the march. Updates on their future meetings and actions will be done through the Digby Neck Collective, an existing group for community organizing.

“We hope to bring this beyond our dining table,” said Quigley Wilson. “We want to discuss issues in this community as well, issues of racism and women’s issues.”

Photiades confesses she is still “mystified” by the viral nature of their march, but she is happy to have connected with so many other women.

“When we chat online, it’s like we are woman-to-woman having a cup tea.”

Quigley Wilson agrees: “You can feel it — it’s like someone reaching out by touching hands, only it’s people through their keyboards.”

NS Village Womens March
“We just couldn’t sit by and passively observe it,” said co-organizer Gwen Quigley Wilson, who created the march with fellow resident Melissa Merritt over their Facebook pages. Photo supplied by Gary Wilson
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