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WOMEN BREAKING THE SILENCE!

For Immediate Release
08 March, 2010

WOMEN BREAKING THE SILENCE!
Emergency Community Assembly and Press Conference

March 8
17 Phoebe Street, Toronto Rape Crisis Centre
10:30am

TORONTO – On March 3rd, the Shelter | Sanctuary | Status campaign sent out a mass notice informing women and anti-violence against women organizations about Immigration Enforcement raiding Beatrice House in mid-February to arrest Jane, a single mother from Ghana. Since then, numerous women have decided to break the silence and spoken out about other raids that have been taking place.

“On Tuesday, October 27th at around noon, I was working at 1st Stop Woodlawn, a YWCA shelter for women, when I saw two deportation officers in plain clothes walk right in our shelter”, says Anne who wishes to keep her name anonymous. “My co-workers and I were all really shaken up. We sat with tears in our eyes, overwhelmed by the situation. We were concerned for the safety of the resident, and shocked and upset that Immigration agents would come into a women's shelter”, she recalls.

“It’s so scary,” says Jane, who wishes to keep her real name anonymous but is willing to speak to media. “I thought the shelter was supposed to be a safe space for me and my baby. I’m scared not just for myself, but for non-status women in shelters everywhere who are facing the same fear”.

“The women in our shelters are survivors of violence. They are healing from trauma. The last thing we need is the bullies from CBSA barging in her to re-traumatize them," says Bernadette Dondo, a counsellor at Nellies.

“We thought these were a few rare occurrences but it seems that this is just operating policy for Immigration Enforcement. We have had women emailing, calling and approaching us all week telling us how CBSA has visited their shelters”, said Fariah Chowdhury, an organizer with the Shelter | Sanctuary | Status Campaign. “CBSA must explain why it is targeting women that are trying to re-build their lives”, she insists.

Shelter workers, residents and anti-violence against women advocates will be joined by women from Toronto Rape Crisis Centre, Sistering, METRAC – Metropolitan Action Committee Against Violence Against Women and Children and many other women’s organizations to demand that Canada Borders Service Agency immediately stop entering or waiting outside shelters or organizations that provide services to women; that women fleeing domestic abuse and violence be given status immediately and a full and inclusive regularization program be implemented.

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In order to protect the shelter workers and residents who have witnessed immigration raids, interviews must be set up in advance.

Contact: Fariah Chowdhury - 647.836.8781 or email fariah.c@gmail.com

The Shelter | Sanctuary | Status Coalition, a growing movement of over 120 anti-Violence

Against Women organizations that are working to create safe spaces for all women, regardless of immigration status - http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org/sss

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