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May Day March for Status for All!

“Firing Jason Kenney, Building a Sanctuary City”

TORONTO – For five years, Migrant Justice organizers have built on the history of May Day in Toronto, creating the momentum for a massive Immigrant Rights demonstration on May 1. This work came alive on Saturday, May 1, 2010 as over two thousand people gathered in one of North America’s most densely populated Immigrant neighbourhoods, St. Jamestown, to fight for Status for All!

“Today, from South Korea to Arizona, to right here in Toronto, millions of people are taking to the streets and marching for our rights, to demand our dignity, to take back our city!” began Graciela Flores, a member of No One Is Illegal – Toronto. “Migrant Community Under Attack! What do we do? Stand Up, Fight Back!”

"I want to take this time to remember those who put food on our tables, those who build our communities, who take care of children and the elderly, those who have been detained and deported, and those who have been sick, injured and even died because of workplace abuses", thundered Chris Ramsaroop, a member of Justicia for Migrant Workers.

“Minister Kenney is telling us that Canada is welcoming to Immigrants. Is that true?” asked Fariah Chaudhry. “Minister is Kenney is telling us that Canada wants to support refugees. Is that true?” “Minister Kenney says that Canada supports women and survivors of violence. Is that true?” Thousands yelled back No.

Hundreds of waving flags, and dozens of kids, dressed as super heroes with No One Is Illegal! capes led the march, dancing to the tune of two Samba bands. As the march moved onto the street, a giant thirty foot banner dropped from a bridge that read “Fire Jason Kenney! No One Is Illegal. Status for All”. Jason Kenney is the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship that has forced through terrible changes to Canadian Immigration policy under a blanket of lies and deceit.

Rosina Kazi, lead singer of prominent Toronto band Lal, appeared on to the bridge urging the protest. “You place the world on your shoulder... And you fight the good fight...Justice makes your heart pound...And your fist shall always rise...”

Just past Carlton, a team of waving flags and performers appeared on top of a roof. Amai Kuda’s ringing voice rose through the demonstration, electrifying the passers by that joined the march. Excited, singing and dancing, the protest moved down Parliament Street walking past Regent Park, a poor and immigrant people’s neighbourhood that has fallen to gentrification.

On the route, a street corner was taken over, with patients in stretchers and doctors holding banners that read “Cause of death: Lack of Status”. The marchers erupted in slogans “What do we want? Health for All!”

Closer to Dundas, a 15 foot high image of Jason Kenney had been erected. Organizers had water balloons ready for the kids to throw at the image when a fleet of bike cops attacked the threatening balloons and slashed them. Other organizers were chased and threatened with various charges.

The march rolled in to the Moss Park apartment complex, a massive community and low income housing project accompanied by students, environmental justice, labor and community contingents. Short speeches by organizers from Mujeres Al Frente and from Missy Elliot, an Indigenous activist from Six Nations, and a number of performances followed and people slowly dispersed – vowing to defeat Canada’s immigration policy and building a Sanctuary City – a city where all people can access good food, education, good jobs, healthcare, childcare, justice and dignity – a city built by its residents for its residents.

No One Is Illegal – Toronto will continue to struggle against the ongoing displacement of migrants, against war and occupation and environmental destruction, in defence of Indigenous sovereignty, to create a full regularization program and ensure permanence on landing for all temporary workers. We will continue to organize in neighbourhoods, in health centres, in shelters, in food banks, in schools and in universities, liberating these places from injustice and creating systems and policies that will force immigration enforcement out and allow all people working and accessing these spaces to live with dignity and respect.

On June 25, 2010, join us at 2:30pm at Allen Gardens during the G8/G20 meetings as we fight against the displacement of our communities and the global imposition of temporary and dangerous work on migrants.

On May 1, 2011, join us in Toronto, for a massive No One Is Illegal! May Day of Action for Status for All.

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