On March 24th, hundreds of marchers took their activism to the streets to march worldwide. These marches took place from Germany, Australia, Tokyo- there were over 800 marches across every continent. Back in early March, when I first heard the #MarchForOurLives announcements, I assumed that if I wanted to participate, I would have to travel to Toronto, or another larger city. But, two amazing teenagers decided to organize their own march in our city through the March For Our Lives website. Much like many other marches that took place across the globe, including the one in Washington, DC, the majority of speakers and organizers were youth.
I had the chance to march along two inspiring girls, Anna and Charlotte, as well as met-up with Erica and Imogen, two very ambitious teens as well. There was quite a large turn out for the march, about 100 people, which is quite large for our city. These marchers represented a diverse demographic, but the majority of marchers were youth.
At the beginning of the March, there were speeches discussing the nature of the march, the goals of #MarchForOurLives, as well a few poems. All the speakers were very confident and articulate- I remember while marching hearing a group of adults discussing the capabilities of youth and the power their voices have. We proceeded to do 2 marches around the main park perimeter, while we walked, chanted, and displayed our signs. Some of these chants included “Protect Kids, Not Guns” “NRA has got to go” and “Enough is enough” As we were marching, there were a handful of people walking by, sharing their opinions that didn’t exactly correlate with the goals of the march, and some were not exactly peaceful. I can recall one particular instance where a couple walked by, and the man shared his opinions about this March happening in Canada, quite loudly sharing his opinions such as “Why the ____ are we having this march in Canada?” “We don’t have gun violence here this is _____ unnecessary” But, just like any other march, peaceful protest, or any time where you stand up for what you believe in, there will be people who are uneducated, don’t share the same belief, and want to bring down the cause. For me, this didn’t demotivate me from marching, it made me want to share my opinions more, and chant a little louder.
After the march I was discussing the whole experience with Erica, who participated in the Women’s March in our city, and she was telling me that there was a noticeably larger turnout for #MarchForOurLives. This doesn’t mean that one is more worthy of being accomplished or shared. There is an equal need to have both Gun Control and Gender Equality, but for me, the reasoning for the turnout is engagement. March For Our Lives was a youth-led march, and it was meant for youth specifically. (that doesn’t mean that other ages cannot participate, but that youth were encouraged more than ever to show up.) As previously stated, the majority of marchers were youth, who decided to show up.
When I came home after the March, I was overwhelmed by social media. I was looking through the #MarchForOurLives on Twitter, and seeing so many others sharing their experiences, signs, and messages. I sat for a while just listening to the live stream of the Washington March, and being so overwhelmed by the support it was receiving, and knew that I was not alone- around the world there were so many other youth at home feeling overwhelmed but ambitious.
After the live stream had ended, I went upstairs, and I saw the protest signs I had made, and marched with only a short time ago laying on my floor. I had made 2, and on one side of the first sign it said “Enough is Enough” in bold orange letters. I had painted the letters in orange watercolour, and throughout my time marching, the oils from my hand had collected from the sign onto my fingers, and left little fingerprints across the signs. That was one of the most eye opening moments of the day, because by marching, and from everyone else who marched, they were leaving their own little marks.
When we encourage youth to show up, and give them the opportunity to lead, change happens and they will show up.