Embattled Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois marched with more than 1,000 separatists in Montreal Saturday in support of Quebec independence, 16 years after the last failed referendum.

"I'm participating in the march today because I am convinced that Quebec should become a country and every day when I see the Conservatives take action to weaken Quebec, my belief is doubled," said Marois..

"When I see Quebec be excluded from naval contracts to promote Vancouver and Halifax, when I see the appointment of a unilingual Anglophone auditor general and judges, when I see the weight of Quebec fall in the House of Commons, I know why I'm walking today for Quebec independence."

While demonstrators united at Place du Canada – renamed by the group ‘Place de l'Independence' – to support the independence movement, many were split on their support for Marois.

"She took the issue of independence and put it on the back burner," said one demonstrator at the sovereignty march. "That's a problem."

Another believed Marois' work isn't done.

"I believe that she should stay and we should help her," she said.

It's been a tumultuous week for the PQ leader after a handful of MPs called for Marois' resignation, despite the leader holding two caucus meetings Wednesday, including a marathon afterhours session where she emerged smiling, claiming her leadership over the faltering party is strong.

There is some concern within party ranks that despite Premier Jean Charest's unpopularity and a string of scandals, the Liberal government is still ahead of the PQ in the polls.

Parti Quebecois President Raymond Archambault said the events of this week reflect the concerns, rather than the divisions within the political party.

"Some members are worried because of the polls. But you know, a survey is a snapshot of public opinion and it evolves. I often give the example of Jean Charest, whose party had support of 19 per cent of voters in the polls and then formed a majority government in the next year," he said.

Marois was upbeat at the march: "I have a lot of people saying to me, ‘You have to stay, Mrs. Marois,' so it's pleasant for me."

With files from La Presse Canadienne and The Canadian Press