Erika Zavala, 32, a seasonal worker from Mexico, weeding rows of plants in the organic carrot farm where she works near Cawston, British Columbia. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Migrant farm workers from BC and Ontario asserted their strength by sharing their struggles with an international audience. Today’s New York Times article by Dan Levin explains how Canada’s migrant farm worker scheme invites dangerous, unhealthy and exploitative conditions for migrant farm workers by its very design.
“This program is a form of apartheid,” said Chris Ramsaroop, an organizer with Justicia for Migrant Workers, a labor rights organization based in Ontario.
“Migrant workers are employed and live under a different set of legal rights than Canadians,” Mr. Ramsaroop added. “The very existence of temporary foreign worker programs enables the Canadian government to deny basic freedoms and protections as a result of their immigration status.”
This criticism by international media — which is underpinned by decades of research and advocacy — shows that justifications for Canada’s migrant farm worker program are wearing thin in the public eye.
In preparation for tomorrow’s event Against Islamophobia and White Supremacy, we prepared a handy listicle on 12 ways Canadian immigration policy reinforces Islamophobia, white supremacy and racism. Check out the dirty dozen here.
As the Globe and Mail’s Denise Balkissoon describes(drawing on Robin DiAngelo), white supremacy isn’t just about the KKK or neo-nazis. Instead, it describes “the entrenchment of whiteness as the sun around which other, inferior cultures revolve.” This often involves what George Lipsitz calls “possessive investments in whiteness.” In the context of Canadian immigration, white supremacy means assuming that the real, core identity of the nation-state is made up of white people of European descent (and brushing off the ongoing legacy of colonialism and Indigenous dispossession). Anti-racist feminist scholars like Sunera Thobani have analyzed how the project of multiculturalism in Canada still ultimately protects white supremacy.
With all of this in mind, please join us tomorrow and across the country in saying “Enough is enough.”
Together, we say “no” to walls and bans against Muslims and refugees on stolen Indigenous lands. Please join actions across Canada against xenophobic, anti-Black, Islamophobic, anti-refugee, racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic policies.
Join Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) in visiting the office of Immigration Minister John McCallum to demand the right for migrant farmworkers to be with their families this Family Day. We will go to the Immigration Minister’s office this Friday to demand that migrant farm workers be able to receive Permanent Immigration status when they arrive to Canada. Help us ensure that not one more Family Day passes where migrant workers cannot be with their partners and kids.
We will be meeting at Minister McCallum’s constituency office (7750 Birchmount Road Unit 21-22, Markham, Ontario) at 10 am on February 12th, 2016. Rides will be departing from 720 Spadina Ave in Toronto at 9 am. If you need a ride, or you can drive people, please RSVP to at email@example.com
J4MW’s action at Minister McCallum’s office is part of the Harvesting Freedom Campaign, which marks 2016 as the 50th anniversary of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP). The campaign will include actions throughout the year to call for Permanent Residence status for migrant farm workers and will culminate in a historic Pilgrimage on to the nation’s capital in October.
Hope to see you on Friday,
The Harvesting Freedom Campaign by
Justicia For Migrant Workers
‘Justice is 50 years overdue’, migrant farmworkers call for real change in 2016
WHAT: Media Briefing to launch historic ‘Harvesting Freedom’ caravan to Ottawa WHEN: 10 am, Monday, January 25, 2016. WHERE: Charles Lynch Room, Centre Block of Parliament, Ottawa WHO: Justice for Migrant Workers (J4MW) is a grassroots advocacy group composed of migrant workers and allies, based in Toronto, Vancouver, and Mexico City
J4MW will held a press conference at 10 am in the Charles Lynch room in the Centre block of Parliament. Following the press conference, migrant workers visited the office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to urge him to grant migrant farm workers Permanent Residence Status on Landing.