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A Wall Is Just A Wall: Fighting Immigration Detention Under Trudeau Liberals

Posted in
Nov/09/2016 - 6:00 pm

Teach-In. Nov 9, 2016
6pm - dinner and music
7 - 9PM - Speakers
Friends House, 60 Lowther Street, Toronto
Children Welcome! | Wheelchair accessible*
RSVP on Facebook:

Peggy Shaughnessy | Desmond Cole | Former immigration detainees | Loly Rico | Dr Michaela Beder | Victor Vinnetou | Gerri Saddoway
More to be announced

Join immigration detainees and community leaders to discuss prison abolition, immigration detention, racism, and organizing to win under the Trudeau Liberals.

November 4th, 2016 is the 1-year anniversary of the Trudeau Liberals coming to power in Canada. While celebrated by many around the world for his “feminism” and yoga poses at UN meetings, Trudeau has continued regressive policies that harm many people - from championing pipelines, supplying arms to Saudi Arabia and the on-going detention of migrants. The Liberals won with the promise of change, yet a year into their leadership, we still have people unjustly detained - some dying - fighting for freedom from Canadian jails.

What does the promise of “real change” look like for migrants unjustly detained in Canadian prisons? Since the Liberals came to power, three men in immigrant detention have died and the government continues to imprison migrants indefinitely. And when detainees have fought for their rights, the Liberals have purposefully increased deportations to silence them. These detainees are mostly Black and Brown men who suffer under the larger racist and colonial Canadian prison and immigration system.

This past summer, we saw a 50-person hunger strike in the jails of Lindsay and Toronto exposing the Liberal lie of “commitment to human rights and compassion.” The outrage by the general public forced the Liberals to finally review detention policy in the fall of 2016 when they announced an additional $138 million in new detention facilities.

The Liberals have not committed to meeting with detainees. They have not examined the current policy on the books or even considered one of the main demands that there be a 90-day maximum in detention - a demand that would put Canada in line with other Western countries.

How do activists and organizers make sense of the Liberal approach to immigrant detention in Canada? How do we fight these detentions as part of a larger strategy of prison abolition and decolonization? How do we specifically build a movement against over incarceration of Indigenous and Black communities? How does this fit into the history of Canadian detention and the use of detention internationally? How do we put this into context internationally when migrants are being detained unjustly around the world? And importantly, how can activists and revolutionaries respond?

We invite you to this teach-in to discuss the history and currently reality of detention in Canada. We will be providing food and bus tokens and have speakers to discuss how detention has been used to maintain and strengthen Canada’s colonial power at home and its foreign policy abroad. This teach-in will discuss the racist, colonial construction of detention in Canada and how it fits internationally - how governments use prisons to control and penalize the unwanted from crossing the border and how activists can effectively respond.

For more information, or to endorse this event contact No One Is Illegal Toronto at

Speakers Bios:

PEGGY SHAUGHNESSY is a captivating and inspirational speaker whose advocacy and activism on the resolution of the struggles of Aboriginal peoples has blessed her with a powerful gift for positive change. Her knowledge comes from many years of teachings imparted to her by Elders from across North America, as well as from many years working behind the walls of Canadian penitentiaries.

DESMOND COLE is an activist, author and an award-winning freelance journalist. He is a bi-weekly columnist at the Toronto Star, and his writing also appears in Torontoist, Walrus, NOW magazine, VICE, and Ethnic Aisle. Desmond hosts a radio program every Sunday afternoon on Newstalk1010. He is currently working on his first book about the past and present experiences of black Canadians. Desmond has been writing about immigration detention and deportation issues consistently, and will be speaking about racisms, incarceration and citizenship.

DR MICHAELA BEDER is a psychiatrist in Toronto, and a lecturer at the University of Toronto. She works primarily with people experiencing homelessness, substance use, and criminalization. She completes assessments for refugees, and for other people going before the Immigration and Refugee Board and has campaigned against unjust immigration detention. She is a community organizer, and a member of OHIP for All and Health Providers Against Poverty.

* WHEELCHAIR ACCESS at Friend's House instructions:
When you get to Friend's house, go through the parking lot (not along the path beside the building) and follow the wooden fence. Go through the wooden gate on your left, and take a sharp left to turn up the ramp. Signs will be posted.