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Women's March Draws 80 Unalaskans

Jan 23, 2017

Erin Reinders leads demonstrators at the end of Unalaska's women's march.
Credit Laura Kraegel/KUCB

The women’s march on Washington drew half a million people to the nation’s capital on Saturday, with some protesting the election of President Donald Trump, some making a stand for equal rights, and many doing a bit of both.

The event inspired smaller satellite marches around the world, including one in Unalaska.

The weather was cold and clear as more than 80 Unalaskans marched across the Captains Bay Bridge.

As they headed toward City Hall, marchers hoisted signs with slogans like “Love Will Win,” “Girls just want to have FUNdamental rights,” and "Unalaska: Stronger Together.”

Laresa Syverson's sign read "Ataqan Akun.”

"It means 'We Are One' in Unangam Tunuu, which is the Unangan language -- the language of the Aleutian Islands," said Syverson. “I’m marching because I believe President Trump should not be in office. I think he’s really disrespected a lot of Americans. He’s disrespected veterans. He’s just disrespected so many people, and it shouldn’t be allowed.”

Mayor Frank Kelty also marched. He said he was motivated by the example of demonstrators across the country.

“I believe it’s important that we make a statement about human rights, the diversity of this country, and our concerns about the way policies might change," said Kelty. "Like Planned Parenthood being defunded or changes to Obamacare that would put millions of people without healthcare.”

For many, the march wasn’t necessarily about protesting the new administration or specific policies. Sharon O’Malley said she celebrated the event as a renewed call for equal rights.

“For all Americans -- whether they’re men, women, rich, poor, black, brown, yellow, gay, straight, atheist, Christian, whatever," she said. "We’re all Americans. We all deserve equal rights.”

Coming to their destination, the marchers climbed the hill next to City Hall. They slogged through snow eight inches deep before gathering around a memorial dedicated to the Unangax who were forced to evacuate during World War II and the villages that were lost when many of them couldn’t return.

Syverson was there alongside four generations of her family, several of whom said they were marching against the injustice of the evacuation.

“At first, I wasn’t going to come to the march, because I thought the weather was going to be bad," said Syverson. "But I think once everyone gets together and realizes they’re not the only ones feeling this way, it makes you feel a lot better.”

After the march, Unalaskans pose for pictures on the hill near City Hall.
Credit Laura Kraegel/KUCB