Across the world more than 2 million people participated in Women’s Marches on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. In the Lake Chelan Valley, with its off-season population of approximately 4,000, about 450 participants contributed to that 2 million figure.
At 3:30 p.m., women, men and children gathered at Riverwalk Park in downtown Chelan donning pink knit caps and carrying signs, united in their passion to protect and preserve human rights.
“Thank you for showing up to support people’s rights, human rights, women’s rights, everybody’s rights. They are so incredibly important,” said organizer Rose Weagant Olcott, who set the positive tone for the event during an address to attendees. “We are seeing right here, the best of what makes Chelan, Chelan. This is a human group who shares deeply and loves deeply.”
The concept for a Women’s March on Washington D.C. began as a Facebook post by a Hawaii grandmother the day after Hillary Clinton’s loss in November’s election. Since then, the movement has spread across the world.
Marches were reported to occur throughout the United Kingdom, Germany, and as far as Antarctica, to name a few. Reports from news agencies covering the worldwide protests described the events as peaceful and inclusive.
“I think in the past election season we saw a lot of nastiness and a lack of diversity, and I think what we all need to show is that we can support each other and build bridges and not burn them down,” said Lake Chelan Clinic Physician Megan Guffey, MD.
In Chelan, no roads were blocked as protestors marched across both the Woodin Ave Bridge and the Dan Gordon Bridge, stretching to fill the path that surrounds the Riverwalk Park before observing a moment of silence.
Marchers traveled to Chelan from Brewster, Pateros, Manson, Omak and beyond to add their voice to the masses.
“We came to Chelan from Pateros because it’s so close by, and we couldn’t make it to Washington, D.C.,” Pateros resident Grace Larsen said with a laugh. Larsen was joined by her daughter. Larsen is a nurse practitioner in Pateros and explained that she serves a diverse community in her clinic. “It’s about taking a stand for everyone who is oppressed or threatened. I work with a lot of people who struggle in life, and they feel powerless. I want to make sure they know they have a voice.”
Olcott invited a friend to translate a speech in Spanish to add to the inclusivity and accessibility of the event. One speaker, Amelia Marchand, who serves with Conservation Northwest, shared a story of perseverance with protestors before they marched.
“If my ancestors, the ancestors of this land can survive for so long, so can we, together. The first time I salmon fished, I sat down by the Columbia at the base of Chief Joseph Dam and prayed. I asked the salmon, how can you survive? How can you return every year, up river through polluted water, dams, walls that try to stop you? The climate is changing. The waters you live in are warming up, and the food source you have is going away. How can you do it? The answer that they gave me was instinct. They told me, “We swim together. That’s why we are here. With one heart, we swim together.” – Amelia Marchand