Dear friends, allies, and supporters of No One Is Illegal - Toronto,
As we welcome 2013, we want to take this moment to reflect on some things that we accomplished together in 2012. We would like to remember the moments that inspired us and the relationships we built in the struggle for status for all. With the victories come the realities that our communities face every day, the detentions, deportations, and injustices because of Canada’s racist immigration machinery.
2012 began with ongoing austerity and the gutting and dismantling of the immigration system.
The Refugee Exclusion Act (Bill C-31) further eroded migrants’ ability to obtain status, pushing people into greater precarity. We are seeing the devastating impacts of cuts to refugee health care. We remember the ongoing exploitation of migrant workers pushed to work under dangerous conditions leading to countless injury and death, such as the workers who lost their lives in the Hampstead crash.
Despite these attacks on our communities, we’ve been inspired by local and global resistance from KI to Barriere Lake, from Spain to Quebec, and now to Idle No More. We are part of a global movement of resistance against capitalism, environmental destruction, war and displacement. The fight continues.
Freedom to move. Freedom to return. Freedom to stay.
Get ready for 2013!
No One Is Illegal - Toronto
As a completely volunteer, unfunded migrant justice organization, we are always in need of more support, and stronger solidarity. Please think about supporting NOII-Toronto in whatever way you can:
NO ONE IS ILLEGAL - TORONTO 2012 HIGHLIGHTS
++ Toronto vs. Ford: Final Budget Showdown ++
++ Justice & Status for Migrant Workers ++
++ Stop Mining on KI Lands ++
++ Actions Against the Refugee Exclusion Act (Bill C-31) ++
++ May Day 2012 Ignites the Streets of Toronto ++
Over 3000 people march in Toronto’s first May Day march on a walking day in decades
++ Non-Cooperation Campaign Toronto Launch Against Cuts to Migrant Healthcare ++
++ Honouring Our Communities: March Against Racism ++
++ Whose Borders Film Series ++
Mar 16: Enemy Alien and Kanawayandan D’aaki
Apr 20: El Contrado and Borderless
Oct 5: Beyond the Walls co-presented with Toronto Palestine Film Festival
Dec 4: Vol Special co-presented with Cinema Politica
++ Healthcare Denied Campaign Line ++
Launched an anonymous phone line for migrant patients and service providers to share information about healthcare services they are being denied or are unable to provide due to recent changes to refugee healthcare by the federal government.
++ Sounds of Solidarity: Free the Three! Freedom for Migrants! End Detentions! ++
A Demonstration outside the Toronto immigration detention centre in solidarity with security certificate detainees Mohammad Mahjoub, Mohamed Harkat and Mahmoud Jaballah and all those locked up in immigration detention
DETAILED REPORT: WHAT DID NOII-TORONTO DO IN 2012?
In 2012 we continued to organize our work around three pillars: Status for All, Sanctuary City, and solidarity work around Indigenous sovereignty.
(1) Status for All: Immigration status is a promise, a promise of good food, shelter, healthcare, education, food, justice and dignity. And migrants across this country know this promise to be a lie. The fight for status for all is the fight for the realization of this promise through grassroots organizing. It means:
stopping deportations and ending detentions;
stopping unjust immigration policies;
ending exploitative and temporary migrant work;
fighting back against the environmental, economic and military forces that force people to move out of their homes in the first place;
creating a culture of resistance and building community power towards a global movement for justice, of which migrant justice is a part.
(2) Sanctuary City: The project of Sanctuary City is to push Immigration Enforcement out of Toronto so that people can access the safety, services and supports they need to live with dignity, and without fear of detention, deportation or harassment. We do this by organizing radical committees, sectors and collectives of people that fight to create autonomous decision making sites at the places they live, work, learn, and seek support services at. In the past we’ve done this work through our Education Not Deportation and Sanctuary Shelter Status campaigns. In 2012 with the Immigration Legal Committee and the Popular Legal Education Committee, we began work on a Know Your Rights campaign to be launched in 2013. The City we wish to build is one that is safe for all people, undocumented people, migrants, women, queer people, people with disabilities, Indigenous people, the elderly, youth.
We also closely work with Health for All, an autonomous health-focused migrant justice organization that was part of the unprecedented health sector mobilization against cuts to refugee healthcare and pushing for Access Without Fear to healthcare for all migrants.
(3) Indigenous Sovereignty: For us, defending Indigenous sovereignty happens in two ways. Responding to calls for solidarity as they emerge, and building an informed base of support for Indigenous sovereignty, particularly in migrant communities. For this first goal, we supported numerous rallies, demonstrations, and calls to action. For the second, we integrate Indigenous sovereignty into our popular education work in migrant communities, as we seek to build ties of solidarity that unite the fight against borders and colonial governments.
We understand ourselves to be part of a broader movement for justice and liberation. As such, what follows below is as much the story of No One Is Illegal-Toronto, as it is the story of many of those who fight for freedom in Toronto, and in other places.
(1) STATUS FOR ALL
** Freedom for Mohammad Mahjoub **
For almost twelve long years, Mohammad Mahjoub, a torture survivor, has been detained without charge in Canada. He was held for lengthy periods in solitary confinement and later under house arrest on the basis of secret information which the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has admitted was likely obtained under torture. Mr. Mahjoub is one of five Muslim men who have been struggling for justice in Canada against so-called security certificates. Security certificates allow the government to indefinitely detain or deport people on the basis of their profile.
From Apr. 23-25, dozens gathered to pack the courts to have proceedings against Mr. Mahjoub quashed.
On May 24, Mr. Mahjoub told his story in a seven-city speaking tour for the first time in 11 years that Mr. Mahjoub was permitted to leave Toronto.
On Jun. 26, we co-organized Justice Not Fear | March With Mahjoub | Twelve Years Too Many and gathered outside Canada's notorious intelligence agency this afternoon to protest twelve years of arbitrary detention for Mr. Mahjoub and to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
From Jul. 24-26, we packed the courts in Ottawa and Toronto for the Mahjoub Court Support ‘CSIS in the Dock.’
On Sept. 6, we packed the courts at Mohammad Mahjoub's "reasonability" hearings to see Stockwell Day squirm his way out of taking responsibility for targeting Muslim men to create Islamophobic and xenophobic fear, which was followed by a Teach-In and performances.
On Sept. 26, we supported Mr. Mahjoub at a speaking event at York University on Canada's Guantanamo Bay and the hidden history of Canadian detainees in the “War on Terror.”
From Nov. 26-30, we gathered at the courts to show solidarity for Mahjoub to expose the myriad abuses – racial profiling, use of torture-obtained information, destroyed evidence, breach of solicitor-client privilege, stealing defence documents, and more.
On Dec. 9, dozens of people gathered for a demonstration outside the Toronto immigration detention centre in solidarity with security certificate detainees Mohammad Mahjoub, Mohamed Harkat and Mahmoud Jaballah and all those locked up in immigration detention.
On Jan. 7, 2013, in an unprecedented victory, the Federal Court made a ruling to remove most of the conditions imposed on Mohammad Mahjoub. Notably, Mr. Mahjoub will no longer be forced to wear a GPS-tracking device, he will be able to use internet and cell phone, surveillance equipment inside his home will be removed and his phone calls and mail will no longer be subject to automatic surveillance. He will also be able to use the subway and will be able to change his residence without getting prior approval from the government. The change of conditions will only be implemented in late January, after the two sides in the case work out the details.
*STATE OF IMMIGRATION POLICY
** Actions Against the Refugee Exclusion Act (Bill C-31) **
Mar. 22: Delivery of Letter to 7 MP Offices across GTA calling for the scrapping of Bill C-31/The Refugee Exclusion Act
On Apr. 4, Refugee Rights Day, we took part in a Nation-wide coordinated action against Bill C-31 in which we simultaneously occupied Conservative MP offices and dropped banners in SEVEN cities.
On Apr. 12 we held a packed forum on Bill C-31: What's BOGUS about the Conservative Immigration System? How the proposed new Refugee Exclusion Act - Bill C-31 - affects our Communities & How to Stop It.
On May 15: Coordinated Action Against Bill C-31 (London, ON and Toronto MP office occupations; Ottawa banner drop).
** Fighting Cuts to Refugee Health Care **
On Jul. 1. we, along with immigrant and refugee allies, interrupted Canada Day events at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto, holding up massive foam letters that spelled out “Oh Canada, No Home for Refugees” to demand justice for refugees.
On Jul. 15, we launched the "We Refuse To Cooperate!" campaign in Toronto over free ice cream.
On Oct. 29 we joined with Health For all to co-organize Beyond Refugee Health Cuts: Examining the Roots & Nurturing Resistance.
** Ending Exploitative and Temporary Migrant Work **
On Feb. 17, No One Is Illegal - Toronto joined Justice for Migrant Workers at the Family Day Action to Demand Justice for Migrant Farmworker Deaths to demand justice for the families of Ralston White and Paul Roach and to honour the 11 migrant workers who died in a car crash in Hampstead, Ontario.
On July 22, we supported our allies Justice for Migrant Workers in their event Remembering the Dead, Standing up for the Living' March and Vigil to Commemorate the Hampstead Accident.
(2) SANCTUARY CITY
*STATE OF RESISTANCE
On Jan 17, we joined hundreds of protesters at for the final budget showdown at City Hall to demand justice for undocumented people and migrant workers in this city and to ensure that the workers in this city keep working and providing services to more people, not less. With one notable exception (a move to defer contracting out of custodial City staff work), every motion to overturn service cuts passed despite opposition by the Mayor and most members of the Executive Committee.
On Apr. 3, as a co-presentation with SAIA, we screened Cultures of Resistance (Lara Lee / Brazil-USA / 2011 / 73min) - an inspiring global look at the many facets and tactics of resistance deployed by people committed to progressive change.
On Apr. 24, as the Austerity budget in Ontario went to vote, activists from No One Is Illegal - Toronto and Occupy Toronto issued a call for a mass protest and day of action on May Day (May 1), 2012. We dropped a 30 feet x 7 feet banner, cheekily telling early morning motorists to call-in sick on May Day, when immigrant and worker rights groups and Occupy movements across North America will be marching together against the attacks of the 1%.
On May 1, we joined with thousands of others in over 150 cities across Turtle Island and millions around the world to mark International Workers Day and asserted the freedom to move, return, and stay for all. What took place in Toronto could not have been possible without the commitment and energy of the May 1st Movement, Occupy Toronto, Food Not Bombs, Opirg Toronto and Rhythms of Resistance that coordinated various portions of the rally and march and the over 40 organizations that endorsed, mobilized and organized for the largest May Day in our city in recent memory.
On Nov. 4, over 400 people took the streets outside Toronto's Royal York Hotel. Inside, Israel's apartheid institution Haifa University supported by Stephen Harper, Peter Munk, Ezra Levant and others had organized a ceremony to give Immigration Minister Jason Kenney an honorary degree. With dozens of ally groups in Toronto, we honoured our communities in a March Against Racism. Watch call-out video here. Pics here.
** Whose Borders? Film Series **
We launched a film series highlighting issues of Indigenous sovereignty, migration, resistance, and together asking, "Whose Borders?"
On Mar. 16, we screened Kanawayandan D'aaki - Protecting Our Land (Praxis Pictures, 12 mins) and Enemy Aliens (dir. Konrad Aderer, 81 mins.) and featured guest speakers from Mohammed Mahjoub Support Committee and KI Support Committee.
On Apr 20, we screened El Contrato (dir. Min Sook Lee, 51 mins.) and Borderless (dir. Min Sook Lee, 25 mins) with a guest speaker from Justice for Migrant Workers. We focused on the realities of exploited migrant labour, and how the latest changes to the immigration system threaten to make these conditions worse, unless we stop them.
On Oct. 5, we co-presented Beyond the Walls (Ahmad Al Rahami | 2012 | 47 min | Film | Jordan) with Toronto Palestine Film Festival for its North American premiere. Beyond the Walls is an artistic documentary that uses animation and interviews to bring to light the challenges faced by Palestinian political prisoners after their release from Israeli detention in the 1970s and 1980s.
On Dec. 4, we co-presented the Toronto premiere of Swiss documentary Vol Special (Fernand Melgar | 2012 | 103 minutes | Switzerland) with Cinema Politica.
** NOW Toronto Voted NOII-Toronto as Best Activist Group **
(3) INDIGENOUS SOLIDARITY
Over the course of the year, we did dozens of workshops and presentations in high schools, community centres, apartment buildings and many other locations highlighting the colonial policies of the Canadian government, and building an informed base of support for Indigenous sovereignty.
From Mar. 5-6, we supported leaders from Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) Nation in a public talk in Toronto to demand that God's Lake resources Inc. stop exploration on sacred burial grounds on their homeland. This was followed by a rally (featuring dance mob!) at Prospectors Developers & Mining Association (see update).
On Apr. 28, we endorsed the March for Peace, Respect and Friendship in Caledonia to reflect on the context and meaning of the April 28th march, as well as a broader history of Six Nations land rights struggles.
From Jun. 4-8, we endorsed and supported Grassy Narrows River Run 2012 events including the speak out, fish fry and rally & march
On Oct. 3, we endorsed Indigenous women speaking out against the Tar Sands as part of a speakers’ series organized in Coast Salish Territories (Vancouver) and in Ontario.
On Dec. 2, we supported the 10 Years of the Grassy Narrows Blockade: A Sacred Fire at Queen's Park.