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the City is a Sweatshop 2010

Posted in
Mar/19/2010 - 10:00 am

March 19-20, 2010

Hidden behind skyscraper towers and corporate greed is a city built on the foundations of stolen land, exploitation of immigrant labor and denial of basic services to those living without full status or in poverty – Toronto. A sweatshop city.

Massive changes to the immigration and refugee system, coupled with renewed Immigration raids have created an even more precarious situation in Toronto, home to thousands of people living without full status.

Non status people are being systematically shut out of schools, food banks and hospitals, and harassed at women’s shelters by Police and Immigration Enforcement while rebuilding their lives. Migrants are exploited at work, and threatened with deportation when attempting to unionize. Immigration enforcement is attacking people in their homes, at work and on the streets.

But we are taking back our city. One shelter at a time, one food bank at a time, one health care centre at a time. Breaking the walls, fences and borders in Toronto, we are creating a Sanctuary City that ensures justice and dignity for all.

Join us this year in our second annual City Is A Sweatshop series of events!


March 19, 2010, 12:30pm
Health Science Building, UofT, 155 College Street

Pre-Registration encouraged!

A forum for front-line workers and service providers working with migrant communities, students, academics and activists to develop strategies aimed at ensuring access to essential services for immigrants without full status.

Keynote Speaker: Uzma Shakir
Uzma Shakir is a community-based researcher, advocate and activist. She is the past Executive Director of the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA) and the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO). She has worked as a teacher, journalist and researcher, and is a recipient of the Atkinson Economic Justice Fellowship.
Other speakers include:

Javier Davila, Student equity program advisor with the gender-based violence prevention office of the Toronto District School Board and an activist with Educators for Peace and Justice.

Cliff Gayer, Food Bank Coordinator at The Stop Community Centre, he has been instrumental in making The Stop one of the most accessible food banks in the city.

Sarah Reaburn, Health practitioner, long-time community organizer, and member of the 'Health For All' campaign.

Zahra Dhanani, Legal Director of the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC), a member organization of the Shelter Sanctuary Status Campaign.


March 19, 2010, 7:00pm
72 Lib, Ryerson University, 350 Victoria Street

A powerhouse panel discussion featuring activists who have struggled to break down barriers to justice and self-determination of all people. Focused on the ideas and ways that will break down the banks, the corporations, and the policies that are forcing many to live in indignity, the panel will forefront those that have dug at the roots of injustice and planted seeds of change in the very foundations of the system.

Lee Maracle, an award-winning writer and teacher, and an occasional editor, film story editor, dramaturge, stage actor and a gifted orator. She is the author of I Am Woman, Sojourner's and Sundogs, Ravensong, Bobbi Lee, and many other works. Lee is of Salish and Cree ancestry and a member of the Stó:l? Nation.

Sakura Saunders, long time anti-mining activist, and the editor of the web-site Her work has focused on holding Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold mining corporation (based in Toronto), accountable for its destructive global legacy.

Fariah Chowdhury, a researcher, student and organizer with No One Is Illegal Toronto. She is a founding member of the Shelter Sanctuary Status campaign, a growing movement of over 120 anti-violence against women organizations working to resist the brutalities of Canadian immigration enforcement.


March 20, 2010, 7:00pm
Cecil Street Community Centre, 58 Cecil Street

Come join us for food, talks and inspiring performances to celebrate the struggle to transform the city from a sweatshop to a sanctuary. Through organizing in communities, in schools and in shelters, in foodbanks and in health centres and at work places, we are creating the city we want to live in. Grassroots organisers and artists from across the city will share their vision of this city, one based on justice and solidarity.

Adil Charkaoui, a Montreal teacher and father of three children, was held without charge since May 2003 in Montreal under an immigration “security certificate”. Released under severe conditions in February 2005, he has only recently been allowed to travel outside of Montreal.

Clayton Thomas-Muller, of the Mathais Colomb Cree Nation also known as Pukatawagan in Northern Manitoba, Canada, is an activist for Indigenous rights and environmental justice.


Pura Velasco (Caregivers Action Centre)
Sabrina Gopaul (Jane Finch Action Against Poverty)
Sultana Jahangir (South Asian Women’s Rights Organization)
Speaker from the Worker’s Action Centre
Speaker from Justicia for Migrant Workers

And featuring performances from:
Ruben ‘Beny’ Esguerra | Abstract Random | Nomanzland | Amai Kuda


As we prepare to flood the streets of Toronto on May Day (May 1, 2010), and as we build our resistance to the G8/G20 Summits coming to Toronto in June 2010, this series of events will lay out a vision for a city that includes everyone that lives, works, loves and struggles here.

City is a Sweatshop2010_Backgrounder.pdf52.94 KB