A couple of days after the march, friends Merritt and Gwen Quigley Wilson were still in awe to the reaction. Neither had set out to change the world when they organized the Sandy Cove march with one day’s notice, but they certainly wanted to be a part of it.
Both had been concerned over the candidacy of Donald Trump and both were admittedly shocked when he won the presidency. It was a combination of that, but also wanting to have their voices heard on women’s issues, that drove them to take action.
There was some discussion about the march in Halifax, but the trip would be long and the discussion was short-lived. Besides, Quigley Wilson had just arrived home from Halifax after celebrating the birth of a granddaughter.
“That was in the back of my mind,” she says. “I want her to grow up in a world where she has every opportunity, equal like everybody else, and she doesn’t have to be afraid of anything.”
And so on Jan. 20 Quigley Wilson and Merritt threw out a public invite for a march that would stretch between the elementary school and the fire hall.
“If we had ended up with the two of us, or six of us, or three of us, it really didn’t matter,” says Quigley Wilson. “We just wanted to get out and do something and feel like we were participating in this bigger thing.”
Merritt agrees, saying, “They were talking about the marches and I support that so much and I didn’t want to miss out. I thought it was an important moment in time.”
In southwestern Nova Scotia a march also took place in Shelburne. Quigley Wilson says everyone’s voices matter.
“I think a lot of people think that just because you live in a small, isolated community that you’re also isolated from some of these bigger events in the world. But I think we proved no we’re not. Things are on our minds and we have points to make about them,” she says, saying people have concerns over equality and women’s rights regardless if they live in a city of 200,000 people or a village of 65.
Meanwhile, the march participants are gathering Thursday for a potluck supper and to talk about maybe doing other things in the future. Holding discussion forums from time to time is one idea that’s been thrown out.
Merritt and Quigley Wilson are also part of a newly formed non-profit initiative called Digby Neck Collective. The idea is to promote and facilitate social and entrepreneurial activities in Digby Neck.
Merritt says in small, rural communities you should never be discouraged from holding an event – or in this case a march – even if you think no one will come.
“Some people think if hardly anybody is going to show up than you shouldn’t have it, but I think if you get one person, that’s one person you didn’t have before,” she says.
As for Sandy Cove’s 15 minutes of fame – actually, it’s been more than 15 minutes – the women continue to be amazed. Laughs Quigley Wilson, “We may be the very last picture on the New York Times website but it doesn’t matter, we feel like we’re on the top.”