170121 Women's March Toronto - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto
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Really, there's not much more that I can add.


Saturday saw me double-booked, with a course I had committed to attending long in advance happening at the same time as the Women's March. Happily they were close together in the downtown core, and I was able to skip out and join the march for a couple of hours. These are the view of the procession moving south on University avenue, and of the police out in force at the barricades in front of the American consulate in anticipation of their approach.

The crowd estimate was about sixty thousand, but from where I was it seemed more like a million, maybe a million and a half. Huge, anyway – and it was a positive, determined, powerful crowd. This is a 360 view that still comes nowhere near capturing the event.

It was after taking this photo – the Theta was actually doing interval shooting without my intervention – that I hopped off of the planter and joined the group moving south. And if this photo seems even less detailed than the usual Theta images do, that's completely intentional. I've blurred the crowd out of deference to the cameras' all-encompasing view and in the hope of reducing the effectiveness of facial-recognition software. Yes, I know there are lots of sharply-detailed photos that can live on in databases indefinitely, I just don't want the ones I take to be among them. That's also why I was using the 50/1.4G on my D800, and still tried to photograph when I couldn't see prominent faces.

This was the Women's March, and it was fantastic. There were a lot of men there as well – there was a lot of everybody – but the sense was an "I'm with her" support rather than a need to lead. This suited me perfectly, as it's in accord with my simultaneous goals to stand up more, and more definitely, while also being silent and listening. How much better would the world be if men just decided that they would speak less, and less loudly, than the women around them? What new and different voices would we hear?

Being at the march meant being a part of history – being the start of something positive and powerful instead of negative and reductive. And even beyond my community and my city, it was also a show of solidarity with my American friends and family in a very direct way. They were all at their marches in their cities as well.

While there's a bit of distance between Toronto and American politics, recent events have deeply shaken the Canadian sense of smugness. Perhaps it's because of Rob Ford, Toronto's proto-Trump, or the last election campaign that saw our ruling party campaign on ignorance and Islamophobic bigotry before it was cool. Whatever the cause there's no sense that It Can't Happen Here. It absolutely can: we've already seen it start. And people who are in power – or who are aspiring to it – are watching to see just how much they can get away with. 

It's time to do better.

It's long past time.


And really, there's not much more that I can add.


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