As we enter 2015, No One Is Illegal - Toronto would like to take a moment to reflect on our work over the last year to prepare for the work ahead. Knowing where we came from allows us to chart where we want to go. This report is a way for us to communicate and be accountable to the many people that make up our broader movement for migrant justice. It is you, the families fighting detentions and deportations; those that are trying to access services; and the communities that take to the streets despite great risk that made this work possible.
Please read the report and let us know how we can collectively escalate our efforts, and improve our tactics and strategies for change. If you find our work important, please consider joining us or becoming a monthly financial sustainer.
No One Is Illegal - Toronto 2014 organizing highlights:
While we see these highlights as important gains, this last year we also have seen worsening immigration laws in a growing climate of local and global xenophobia and racisms. We have lost many friends to deportations, while we have seen other places we also call home suffer from climate catastrophe, war, and corporate pillaging. This public part of our organizing is accompanied by day-to-day support work for migrants in our communities. Our work is far from over.
As an organization, No One Is Illegal - Toronto, is made up of about 20 organizers, migrants, racialized people and allies. We prioritize relationships and coalition building, and much of our work is done in coordination with other organizations. We have no fixed funding, paid staff, office, or even a phone line. If you have any time, please consider joining our work. Details on how to do that are available here http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org/meetings.
In 2015, we hope to become more financially self-reliant - we are powered entirely by volunteers, and somehow manage to fight big struggles against big enemies. All of our funds raised go directly to our work on the ground, but given the constant brutality we are fighting against, we are always urgently in need of more resources. We’re going to start small in our fundraising goals in 2015 - we are aiming for 50 people to contribute just 10$ a month. This is no fixed contract - you can start, stop, or change your amount at any time. Become a monthly supporter by filling out a form that can be downloaded here. If you have more questions about becoming a monthly supporter, please call Nate at 416.993.1813.
In 2014, we continued to organize our work around three pillars: (a) Status for All, (b) Access Without Fear, and (c) support work for Indigenous sovereignty struggles. The report below documents our major actions in support of each of these pillars. Read more on our organizing pillars, vision and demands here: http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org/demands
We understand ourselves to be part of a broader movement for justice and liberation. As such, what follows below is as much the story of No One Is Illegal-Toronto, as it is the story of many of those who fight for freedom in Toronto, and in other places.
We are together in struggle, until all walls fall.
Detailed report: What did NOII - TO do in 2014?
(1) FIGHTING FOR STATUS FOR ALL
++ End Detentions and Deportations ++
Since September 2013, we have organized as part of the End Immigration Detention Network in support primarily of immigration detainees locked up at a maximum security prison in Lindsay, ON. Many of them have been jailed indefinitely.
In 2014, we supported a boycott by detainees of their detention reviews, and released a report to prove their assertions that the judicial oversight system over immigration detention is broken. We went to Ottawa, and locked down the Public Safety building, and took to the streets the following day for a Father’s Day march. We won an opinion in our favour from the United Nations, and organized a protest-concert on the 1 year anniversary of the strike. We organized, forums, protests and more. You can see details of our activities from Jan to Sep 17th, here.
On Sept 25, a secret Red Cross report on the deplorable conditions of detention facilities became public. It found cases of triple-bunking, denial of family contact, increasing imprisonment of minors and children, violation of basic legal rights, worsening mental health in detention, and alternatives to detention as key areas of concern. Moreover, we were troubled to discover that Red Cross was denied access to Ontario prisons.
On Nov 5, Global News released investigations on Canada’s unjust immigration system documenting many of the people we are organizing with and exposing for the first time that nearly a dozen people have died in immigration detention in the last decade.
On Nov 23, more than a 100 of us gathered together in front of the Toronto Immigration Holding Center (TIHC) to show solidarity with migrant detainees. Watch our video of the event here and watch mainstream media coverage of the event here.
On Nov 29, we organized a surprise noise demonstration at the Central East Correctional Center in Lindsay.
On Dec 15 we released a video about Glory Anawa, on her birthday, to tell her story and that of her 16-month son whose never spent a single day in his life outside of detention here.
We also supported the launch of Tings Chak’s graphic novel, Undocumented: The Architecture of Migrant Detention.
++ End Security Certificates ++
On June 5, we supported and endorsed the Dinner with Mahjoub Fundraiser. In his 14 year long struggle against the human rights violations inherent in Canada’s security certificate, we have continued to support former detainee and torture survivor, Mohammad Mahjoub. Mr. Mahjoub is one of five Muslim men who have been struggling for justice in Canada against so-called security certificates. Security certificates allow the government to indefinitely detain or deport people on the basis of their profile. Read more about Mr Mahjoub at www.supportmahjoub.org
++ 2014 Racial Profiling and Anti-Immigrant Raids ++
In response to the Aug 14 racial profiling and anti-immigrant raids where more than 50 people were arrested in the Keele and Finch area, we began a campaign against Ontario collusion in immigration enforcement.
We organized emergency protests in front of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and Ministry of Transportation offices, as well as with our allies in Jane and Finch Action Against Poverty (JFAAP). We launched petitions and filed a complaint with the Ontario Ombudsman. As a result, Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca announced that his ministry was permanently cutting ties with immigration enforcement. However, we are concerned about the actual implementation of this decision and are monitoring closely.
Click here to read a comprehensive report of the 2014 raids.
++ Ending Exploitative and Temporary Migrant Work ++
2014 saw massive changes to laws governing the lives of people deemed ‘Temporary Foreign Workers’ and ‘Live In Caregivers’.
First a moratorium was placed on fast food workers which we insisted in a joint statement with No One Is Illegal - Vancouver was a mass deportation order.
On June 19th, we supported the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change led Immigration Not Deportation rally. Soon after laws were passed that made it harder for migrant workers to switch jobs, or to gain permanent status. Read more on those changes here from the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change of which we are a member.
In response, with our allies in Justicia for Migrant Workers, we disrupted a press conference held by Canada's Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney. Watch our video of the interruption here.
On May 23rd, we supported a joint statement by South Asian activists and academics insisting Migrant Workers exclusion is Komagatmaru's Legacy.
On Nov 4, we issued a statement condemning the passing of Bill C-36 which criminalizes clients and safety communication for purposes of selling sex and remembering Evelyn Castillo whose tragic death on Oct 11 highlights the deplorable state of Canada’s immigration laws and policies on sex work.
On Nov 22, we supported the Caregivers and Allies Solidarity Rally where more than 100 of us gathered together in front of the office of Canada's Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander, to show our outrage over recent changes to the Live-In Caregiver Program and demand for status upon arrival. Watch a video from the event here. Read about how these changes leave caregivers in greater positions of vulnerability here.
On Dec 18, the 4th Global Day of Action for the Rights of Refugees, Migrants, and Displaced Persons, we supported our ally Justice for Migrant Workers in their event to commemorate and remember the thousands of deaths and missing cases of migrants around the world.
++ Building a culture of resistance ++
On Jan 22 we gathered to protest outside the Israeli consulate at 180 Bloor St. W. in solidarity with African asylum seekers in Israel and demanded for the rights of all migrants around the world to live with dignity and respect.
On May 1, we joined with thousands of others in over 150 cities across Turtle Island and millions around the world to to demand Status for All on International Workers Day. Together we mobilized to rally, chant, cheer, and ultimately demand the freedom to move, the freedom to return, and the freedom to stay for all. Watch our video from the this 9th annual march here.
In August, we travelled to Ottawa to participate in the People’s Social Forum. Along with No One Is Illegal groups across the country and allies, we coordinated 11 workshops, forums and movie screenings.
(2) ENSURING ACCESS WITHOUT FEAR
++ Making Toronto Safe for All ++
In February 2013, as part of the Solidarity City Network, we won a massive victory when Toronto City Hall voted unanimously to declare Toronto a Sanctuary zone. We spent much of 2014 working to support similar organizing other cities and to getting Toronto to keep its promise.
On May 22, we pressured the Community Development and Recreations Committee to pass many of those recommendations. On June 10, the Toronto City Council voted 29-8 to accept our recommendations.
2014 was also the year that Hamilton became Canada’s second Sanctuary City.
++ Building a solidarity province ++
On January 18, Rogerio Marques De Souza, a Toronto resident for 25 years, passed away due to untreated colon cancer but his family was told he wasn't eligible for the low-income subsidy for his funeral simply because he was undocumented. We organized petitions and media attention which resulted in private donors paying for Mr De Souza's funeral. Read our op-ed here where we continue to urge for a sanctuary Ontario so that non-status Ontarians can receive the health care, social housing, medical services, post-secondary education, and dignity that they deserve.
On Mar 22, we lead a migrant justice contingent at our ally OCAP’s Raise the Rates March to the Ontario Liberal Party convention. Read OCAP’s demands here.
In 2015, we will escalate our struggle to make Ontario a province where all people can live without fear of detentions and deportations, and be able to access services without fear.
++ Confronting Authority: Know Your Rights Movie ++
On May 15, we released our latest film, Know Your Rights, a compilation of strategies migrants can use to defend themselves against detentions and deportations. Read media coverage about the film here. Watch and download the know your rights material here in English, French and Spanish.
(3) SUPPORTING INDIGENOUS SOVEREIGNTY
Over the course of the year, we did workshops and presentations in high schools, community centres, apartment buildings and many other locations highlighting the colonial policies of the Canadian government, and building an informed base of support for Indigenous sovereignty.
On Feb 20, we endorsed and supported the Mi’kmaq Warriors Speaking Tour in Southern Ontario on the struggle against shale gas fracking at Elsipogtog and the RCMP’s violent attack and dismantling of the anti-fracking blockade in October 2013.
From July 29-31, we supported Grassy Narrows River Run 2014 events, including a panel and a march against the mercury contamination of the Wabigoon River and clearcut logging on Grassy Narrows territory. See some media and accomplishments from after the events here.
On Dec 6, we endorsed and supported the Furniture for Mishkeegogamang First Nation clothing and furniture drive in preparation for the coming winter. Mishkeegogamang is on what is called Treaty 9 territory, an area continuously dispossessed for the purposes of the gold mining industry.
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