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May Day 2011: Stop the Cuts! Status for All!

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May Day 2011 bannerOn May 1st 2011, International Worker's Day, workers waged and unwaged, people with and without status took to the streets of Parkdale. For the 6th year in row we gathered to demand Status for All, to march for justice, for freedom, for access without fear, for the right of all to live with respect and dignity.

As people gathered in front of Parkdale Collegiate they were greeted with delicious food, high-energy musicians and Samba bands, and hundreds of vibrant flags, placards and banners. Powerful messages of solidarity were delivered by indigenous sovereignty activist Missy Elliot, Jethro Tulin from the Porgera Alliance of Papua New Guinea, the Caregivers Action Centre, the South Asian Women's Rights Organization and the International Federation of Iranian Refugees.

Over 1800 people braved the gray and rainy day to be a part of the demonstration, and Parmbir Gill, an organizer with No One Is Illegal – Toronto explained that commitment when he said: "Those who are the most marginalized, the most gunned down, the most kicked, beaten, spit on, treated like dirt, we who bear all of these acts of violence on our minds and bodies - we are also the most rugged, the most stubborn, the most resilient.”

Marching east on Queen Street in over a dozen contingents (see details of contingents at http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org/node/593), we were joined by vivid, interactive floats and giant handmade puppets that each carried their own message. An elaborate float of the sweatshop city we seek to dismantle transforming in to the sanctuary city we are building captured the crowd’s attention. As well, hung across a massive ballot box was a banner reading “our dreams don’t fit into ballot boxes” and springing from its top were brightly coloured ‘dreams’ of indigenous sovereignty, environmental justice, and status for all!

As we marched under the Dufferin street bridge, our voices amplifying, our spirits soaring, we were met with a 30 foot banner that read “Stop the Cuts! Status for All”. This marked the start of our organizing in the months ahead fighting back against the coming cuts to public services; cuts that will most impact immigrant and undocumented communities (see http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org/stopthecuts for our statement, news and upcoming actions).

Test Their Logik a local hip-hop crew roamed the crowd performing, eventually making their way onto a rooftop for a hip-hop set that erupted in to a street party. As the Warrior flag waved over an abandoned warehouse, we took over the street in a spontaneous celebration for justice and dignity.
In the weeks leading up to May Day, we knocked on the doors of residents across Parkdale, and as we marched through the neighbourhood, we were met with hundreds of supportive people that came out to the streets to greet us from their homes and apartments. At Dufferin Grove park we converged with the May 1st Movement March in the spirit of solidarity and movement building we need to see in this city. Performances by local artists followed and the high-energy crowd gradually dispersed.

With May Day now over, we as community members, as organizers, as migrants, as workers, will carry with us the momentum and energy that demonstrations like these bring to our movements. We know that with each fist raised, chant echoed and drum beat the strength of our communities and our message reverberated across this city’s streets. It is with this knowledge that we again commit to continue our struggle for justice, for dignity and for status for all!

On May 1st, 2012 join us for a massive No One Is Illegal! May Day of Action for Status for All, the first May Day demonstration on a working day in Toronto in recent memory.

Pictures: http://www.flickr.com/groups/mayday2011/
http://blog.yellowsweatygorilla.com/post/5136828324/may-day-2011-photos
http://www.flickr.com/photos/paultuck/sets/72157626518184157/with/568558...

Video: http://youtu.be/zDEnmPEtKS8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKR1atTluCw

The 2011 May Day of Action for Status for All was supported by Worker's Action Centre, Canadian Arab Federation, Justicia for Migrant Workers, Caregivers Action Center, Educators for Peace and Justice, Sistering, South Asian Women's Rights Organization, Jane Finch Action Against Poverty, Good Jobs for All Coalition, Migrant Worker's Alliance for Change, Toronto Rape Crisis Center, CUPE - Ontario, Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario, Bolivarian Circle, OCAP, Davenport Neighbours for Peace, Greater Toronto Workers Assembly, Ryerson Students Union, National Council of Latin American and Caribbean Women of Canada - LATIN@S, Health for All, Environmental Justice Toronto, Hassle Free Clinic, Mata Danze, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, The Bread and Bricks Social Justice Group, The Toronto New Socialists, Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation District 12 Human Right Committee, CUPE International Solidarity Committee, York Federation of Students, Toronto Immigration Legal Committee, University of Toronto Students Union, The Women's Coordinating Committee for a Free Wallmapu, Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, Women in Solidarity with Palestine, No One Is Illegal - Vancouver, Ontario Public Interest Research Group - York, Ontario Public Interest Research Group - UofT, Students For Medicare, The Centre for Women and Trans People (Toronto), The Trans Inclusion Group, AW@L, Communist Part of Canada - Toronto Committee, Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), LAL, Medical Reform Group, The Public Health Social Justice Collective, Health Providers Against Poverty, Health Studies Union of U of T, York University Free Press, Toronto Forum on Cuba, Rhythms of Resistance, Student Christian Movement, People's Assembly on Climate Justice, CUPE International Solidarity Committee, Mujeres Al Frente, Social Planning Toronto, Afghans for Peace, Canadian Arab Federaion, Faculty for Palestine, Students Against Israeli Apartheid - York, Social Justice Committee of the UofT Graduate Students Union, Toronto District of the International Socialists, Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, The People Project, the Asian Canadian Labour Alliance and more.