This fall the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) - the largest school board in Canada - provided its 558 schools with a full colour poster stating that "All children living in our community, including those without immigration status in Canada, are entitled to admission to our schools"(attached)
Accompanying this poster was a tip sheet with guidelines for office administrators to ensure that no student is denied access to elementary or secondary school. [Download the document below]. If adhered to fully, this means that the TDSB could become a model school board for the principle of 'access without fear' as well as a major pillar of the ongoing campaign to build a Sanctuary/Solidarity City here in Toronto. For Kimberly and Gerald, for Matthew and Rawad, and for all the others without status who have had to fight for their right to education - we dedicate this victory to you.
No One Is Illegal believes that to label a person “illegal” is to deny them of their humanity and to create a community that is constantly in fear.
This is the message that Grade 10 students at Harbord Collegiate received when they packed into their auditorium for a presentation by No One is Illegal and a documentary entitled Education not Deportation.
No One Is Illegal describes themselves as “a group of immigrants, refugees and allies who fight for the rights of all migrants to live with dignity and respect. We believe that granting citizenship to a privileged few is part of racist immigration and border policies designed to exploit and marginalize migrants.”
The Toronto Star - Nov. 24, 2009
Gerald and Kimberly Lizano-Sossa from Costa Rica. Mathew Nguyen from France. Rawad Reda from Lebanon. Sarah Leonty from St. Lucia.
These youths, at one point or another living without legal status in the GTA, represent the otherwise voiceless and faceless people too afraid to attend school for fear they will be detained or deported.
Three years after their publicized stories prompted the Toronto District School Board to adopt the "don't ask don't tell" policy – keeping its schools from asking a student's immigration status at enrolment – advocates say non-status students continue to be hassled or are refused enrolment.
In an attempt to better inform school employees – from principals to office clerks – about board policy, advocates, with the support of Ontario elementary and secondary school teachers' unions, have launched a self-made video.
Friday, November 20, 2009
(Universal Children's Day)
1:00pm - 3:00pm
286 Harbord Street
In May 2007, Toronto's parents, teachers, students and community
organizers won the right for non-status children to enter TDSB schools.
This makes Toronto the only city in the country where non-status children
Sounds great, right?
Except, most teachers, staff or students haven't heard about the policy
Except, migrant communities have not been informed
Except, Peel and Catholic District School Board still bar students Except, graduating students are unable to get post-secondary education
We won. But the struggle continues.
We want an Education. Stop the Deportations.
-On November 20, 2009, come to the launch of the Education Not Deportation
-Watch a performance by Jane and Finch's theater troupe Nomanzland
-Learn how community mobilization can win victories. Join the struggle
to further the fight for Status for All
Toronto- Below the stormy skies of U of T's St.George Campus, hundreds of students, campus workers and faculty rallied outside the Sidney Smith Building to demand a stop to the deportation of Saad Alam and his family.
"I never imagined that I would get this much support from so many people," expressed the 23 year old U of T student, to a crowd of cheering supporters.
Slated for deportation in less than a week, the Alam family and supporters kicked of an emergency campaign demanding the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration use her discretionary authority to grant them a Ministerial Permit to allow them to stay in Canada.
A Bangladeshi immigrant who writes for a Mississauga-based ethnic newspaper and owns a house in the city faces being deported along with his wife and university-aged son after a crackdown by the federal government on illegal immigration.
Badrul and Shammi Alam and their son, Saad, lost their bid for refugee status in 2004. They had launched two appeals, one based on compassionate grounds, the other on fear of persecution. Both were unsuccessful.
"It's not a fair decision but I understand we have to go back," said Badrul Alam. His appeal was based on the risk of harm because of his Jatiya Party connections in Bangladesh.
While Alam says he understands why he and his wife must leave Canada, he was hoping his son could stay.
"We would only like the authorities to let my son finish his education," he said.