The contingent of Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) who participated in the 4th edition of the World March of Women, on October 17, 2015, was motivated by doing its part to fight injustice and to witness to its solidarity with all women suffering violence throughout the world.
Doing their part
Returning from their trip to Trois-Rivières, where they were joined by thousands of women and men from all regions of Quebec, the SNJM’s were especially touched by the solidarity which was expressed and the messages delivered in support of the cause of Aboriginal women. “To remain standing we must keep moving is only a small part of what I retained from one of the messages given by the speakers “, related Sr. Denise Riel, Provincial Animator of the Quebec SNJM’s. “20 years after the ‘Bread and Roses March’ we realize that we must never stop. There are many steps to be taken before achieving equality and respect for women’s bodies.”
Continuing the fight
Still very active at the age of 85, Sr. Jeannine Cornellier also participated in the march. For this true advocate of women’s rights, today more than ever, it is important to pursue these demands and to raise awareness. “When we realize that today women’s bodies are still being threatened everywhere in the world; we think about the 200 students kidnapped in Nigeria or the 1189 Aboriginal women murdered in Canada, and we realize that there is much to be done”, she says. This plight of women gives her the courage to continue.
“I too am very proud to have been able to do my part”, said Sr. Florence Vinet who was participating for the first time. “The values of justice, equality, peace, solidarity and freedom, upheld by the World March of Women, are wholly consistent with those of our Congregation. It was an extraordinary time of support which was very inspiring for all of us.”
For her part, Sr. Lise Gagnon, who took part in the 10 days of the ‘Bread and Roses March’ in 1995 as well as in the subsequent editions of the World March of Women, could not contain her enthusiasm.
“Each time it again brings much happiness. It is refreshing and encouraging to see that the values promoted by the World March of Women touch everyone, of all backgrounds, young and not so young. It is all the more important today that, more and more, we realize that we must fight to maintain our rights. The sweeping success of this 4th edition should encourage all groups to continue their work for equality and justice.”
Giving a voice to the voiceless
Within the group of fifty people gathered by the SNJM’s, many were deeply moved by this great solidarity and the chemistry which was so palpable on the site and yet so difficult to put into words. The general consensus was that all were proud to have added their voices to those of the thousands of people who were present to stridently point out the intolerable situations of poverty and violence.
“To participate in the World March of Women is for us, as SNJM’s, to express our solidarity with all women suffering from violence and injustice in the world. It is also a way of denouncing all violence done to women, men and families by the human trafficking industry”, concluded Sr. Catherine Ferguson, General Superior of the Congregation.
Prior to assuming the leadership of the Congregation, Sister Catherine was very involved in the UNANIMA International Group which made representations to the United Nations. She has always been extremely impressed and happy to witness the strength and solidarity of the Quebec feminist movement. “In the course of their representations to the United Nations, the women’s groups from Quebec have constantly ensured a powerful presence and solidarity in favor of women’s equality. I have always noticed the many affinities with the values of our Congregation. I am truly happy and proud to have been able to join this movement today.”