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Why two Canadian authors became Women’s March on Washington organizers

Elisabeth de Mariaffi (Ayelet Tsabari)

Elisabeth de Mariaffi (Ayelet Tsabari)

As protestors around the world prepare for Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington by painting signs and knitting pink pussyhats, two Canadian authors are working behind the scenes to help coordinate their local city marches.

Elisabeth de Mariaffi (The Devil You Know) is one of the co-organizers – along with Caroline Clarke and Lynn Moore (sister to author Lisa Moore) – behind a march planned for St. John’s, Newfoundland. She’s also working with the national team and had a hand in its official call to action, which will be released on Jan. 20. De Mariaffi says she initially got involved because she, like many others, was frightened by what she observed during the U.S. election campaign, in particular the constant harassment of Hillary Clinton and the way Donald Trump “openly bragged about sexually assaulting women, and a portion of the electorate – and the media, I might add – working very hard to excuse that.”

While de Mariaffi says impetus for the Canadian marches is to stand in solidarity with our American neighbours, she also observes “a real impulse to stand up and proactively defend our human rights as women. I think it’s key to remember that only 18 months ago, we were in the middle of an election campaign ourselves, watching Stephen Harper use the niqab as an election issue, and of course we saw here exactly what we’ve seen in the States – that a political message translated directly to the community. We saw women wearing niqab in Canada physically attacked on the street.”

Amy Stuart (Paige Lindsay)

Amy Stuart (Paige Lindsay)

Author Amy Stuart (Still Mine) is on the planning committee for Toronto’s March on Washington, along with several other volunteers, including publishing-industry professional Bianca Spence. The group approached Queen’s Park in late November about a Toronto event around the same time as other sister marches began to pop up around the world. “Our committee is small but a diverse and mighty group of volunteers, and it’s been an incredible learning experience for me to be part of it,” she says. “I got involved because I feel now is a crucial time to be standing up for women’s rights, and I’m trying hard to lead by example for my three sons.”