A crowd gathered in Halifax’s Grand Parade to celebrate International Women’s Day on Sunday afternoon. Drums were played, flags waved, and women spoke; however, just as the rally was ending a woman who wasn’t on the agenda stood up in front of the crowd to express her frustration.
Moonshadow, paralyzed on her left side after being hit by a drunk driver in 1975, said she’s upset the event didn’t include anyone speaking on behalf of women with disabilities.
“Before you people leave I want to say something. I am embarrassed that this group does not recognize that the highest percentage of women with disabilities live in Nova Scotia. One in five of us, it might be the person next to you, will experience some sort of mental health crisis in their lifetime. I’m sorry, but I find it very difficult to be in solidarity with these women here who do not recognize us! It’s nice the cameras are gone cause you know people with disabilities do not count in Nova Scotia,” said Amy Moonshadow.
Crowd members responded to Moonshadow’s speech agreeing with her and thanking her for bringing up the issue.
LGBTQ activist, Madison Foster, who spoke earlier during the event, responded to Moonshadow’s comments amongst the crowd.
“We need to be better at being in solidarity with you, it looks like we let you down by not bringing this up,” said Foster.
The Halifax Dartmouth and District Labour council sponsored the rally. A number of women including Christine Saulnier, Anika Roberts-Stahlbrand and Michaela Sam spoke at the rally with a performance by SolidariGLEE.
Moonshadow said she wanted to be included in the rally but didn’t know how to contact the planning committee. She says she went to a meeting one year ago and made posters.
Dawn Ferris, vice-president of women’s issues for the Halifax Dartmouth labour council, said Moonshadow attended last year’s event but didn’t say she wanted to be on this year’s agenda.
“Amy brings up a really good point in that I didn’t include her in the capacity of a disabled female. We were trying to get guest speakers as we always do every year from labour, from policy, from that perspective,” said Ferris.
Ferris said this year’s theme “for our bodies, our territories” came from a national effort of labour councils across Canada.
“With all the things going on with the missing and murdered sisters in the aboriginal community, and all of the misogynistic stories that are in the news lately, so it seemed like a really relevant important topic,” said Ferris.
Those who took to the steps in front of the City Hall during the event addressed the struggles of women in Nova Scotia. They proposed an end to sexism and gender-based violence and demanded action for equal pay, reproductive health care, and an inquiry into the missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.