Although the Niagara wine industry is becoming increasingly renowned for the quality of its grapes, at present the industry simply could not exist without migrant workers. Yet migrant workers are seldom celebrated amidst the bucolic imagery associated with wine marketing and agri-tourism.
We decided that a celebration of local wine ought to celebrate the contributions of migrant workers in our communities, and that such a celebration also ought to demand the conditions for health equity, justice and dignity among all those who produce wine grapes. So, we created a presence for migrant workers by joining the Niagara Wine Festival Grande Parade, with its 2016 theme of “Homegrown Niagara.”
Marching in the parade, we shared messages from migrant workers about their experiences, and we provided parade attendees with information about the Harvesting Freedom campaign for status on arrival. Coverage of our parade participation made it into the St. Catharines Standard and the Thorold Edition. Thanks so much to the dream team from the Niagara region who helped make our multi-part visit happen last week (including those who contributed photographs below from the event) especially Heryka Miranda, Dylan Powell, Rose Davies, Simon Black and many more.
Heryka Miranda and Juan Luis Mendoza de La Cruz performing as part of “The Sunflower Man” in April 2016. Photo: AMW
A couple of folks from St. Catharines have asked if there was a typo in our caravan schedule. Nope! We’re heading out there twice this coming week: once on 21st Sept, and again on the 24th. Please see below for details.
Thanks so much to community members Heryka Miranda and Rose Davies for helping to host us in St. Catharines. Like so many of the amazing volunteers who have helped make the Harvesting Freedom Caravan possible, Heryka has been engaged in inspiring collaborations with workers. You can learn about her dance therapy-based research project with farm workers in the Niagara region here.
Wednesday Sept 21
The Harvesting Freedom Caravan will be in Brock University watching documentary films Migrant Dreams and hosting a community discussion from 5-8 pm. We will be in room THISTLE (TH) 258. Brock is at 1812 Sir Isaac Brock Way Street, St Catharines. This film is screened as part of Cinema Politica, in partnership with Brock’s sociology professor Jane Helleiner, who teaches a third year Global Migration class and local community activists. RSVP on the Facebook event
Saturday Sept 24
Demonstration at the Niagara Wine Festival Grande Parade, 9am-11am. Please join us at Montebello Park at the corner of Lake and Queen St for a demonstration to demand justice, and status, for migrant farm workers. We will be giving out information to the public, and displaying messages from local migrant workers about their experiences. You are welcome to hold a sign in their place, or bring your own sign. We will have limited materials on site for people to create their own signs. Get in touch if you want to take part (harvestingfreedomcampaign@gmail). Facebook event info here.