Tears streamed down the face of Lisa Ganuelas while waiting for the start of Saturday’s Women’s March on Pendleton.
Overwhelmed by emotion, Ganuelas said it’s imperative that all people recognize that women are important and women are strong. Herself included.
The Mission woman is a proud single mom who has worked hard to raise her children. After serving for 17 years as the legislative coordinator for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, she now works construction.
“I watch this president,” she said, referring to Donald Trump. “I’m ashamed.”
The march coincided with the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration and women’s marches that were held around the world last January — including one in Pendleton. About 400 people met outside the Pendleton City Hall/Library complex. After several speeches, participants marched to the courthouse steps where several others spoke. The group then continued marching around the corner up Main Street to Heritage Station Museum, where the event concluded with a group singalong.
Vickie Read, who helped organize the Pendleton march, said there were many reasons people participated in the nonpartisan event. Referred to as a peaceful protest against intolerance and injustice, a central theme among those who spoke was encouraging people to share their voice, including by going to the polls.
“Voting is a critical part of our democracy,” said Karen Wagner of Pendleton.
Wagner said she’s lived in and visited other countries where women can’t vote. She urged people to recognize that voting is our right and responsibility and not something to be taken for granted.
Finding her voice since attending the 2017 march, Daphny Chen shared from the microphone. The 17-year-old is president of Gay Straight Alliance, a student-led group at Pendleton High School that promotes equality.
“Last year I was in the crowd and was afraid to speak out,” she said.
Chen said she was representing other young people who were either afraid to speak up or whose parents wouldn’t let them attend the event.
Kids in step with women’s march
Prior to the event, a special children’s story time was held at the library. Assistant director Jennifer Costley said during the 2017 march she noticed the crowd gathering in the parking lot and she decided it provided a perfect opportunity to further include children.
Costley read “Let the Children March” by Monica Clark-Robinson and “The Pink Hat” by Andrew Joyner. Both newly published books provide age-appropriate information and serve as conversation starters. In addition, the group participated in a craft activity to make signs for the march.
“I’m glad that they are doing this at the library,” said Ailea Villanueva. “It gets the kids involved. It gets them involved with the community.”
Chris Garrigues and Amy Marvin brought their 5-year-old son, Atlas. The couple said with the current political and social climate in the world, it’s even more important to educate their son.
“I think part of the solution is for parents to teach them about the issues,” Marvin said.
Villanueva, who attended a women’s march while snowshoeing last year on Trillium Lake at Mount Hood, brought her son, Gabriel Rock, 5, and daughter, Sophia Rock, 10.
After looking at ideas for signs, Villanueva helped create one that said “Boys will be boys.” Only, with the second “boys” crossed out, replacing it with the words “good humans.”
“We wanted something that would convey that the saying is not acceptable these days,” Villanueva said.
Decked out with a pink hat and shoes with pink laces, Sophia was set to march on Pendleton.
“Everyone should be treated the same no matter what gender they are and no matter what color they are,” she said.
Preparing to embark on her fourth march, 8-year-old Violet Hall is looking to the future. With a sign that read “Future president 2045,” the youngster said that’s the year she will be eligible to run for president based on age requirements.
A recent Oregon State University graduate who went to school in Pendleton made it a point to return to town to participate in the event. Carrying a rainbow flag and sandwich board signs on front and back, Kayden Purnell carried a message of inclusiveness — and was pleased to see the diversity of people who turned out for the event.
Purnell said with the recent government shutdown, the women’s march is especially relevant.
“This is a political movement at its core.”
Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4539