OUT OF OUR SHELTERS! OUT OF OUR LIVES! was the message delivered to the Canada Border Services Agency on March 8th, International Women's Day, by the 120 plus women and trans-folks who poured into the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre for an Emergency Assembly.
The meeting began with a campaign organizer reading a statement from Jane, a single mother and survivor of violence from Ghana, "Last week, one of the residents from the shelter called me. She told me that immigration officers came into the shelter to look for me. I never thought that they would do something so low. I'm not a criminal. I'm a human being and shouldn't be treated like this. I have the right to be in a shelter without being afraid that they will come to get me," Jane told the crowd of supporters.
Hidden behind skyscraper towers and corporate greed is a city built on the foundations of stolen land, exploitation of immigrant labor and denial of basic services to those living without full status or in poverty – Toronto. A sweatshop city.
Massive changes to the immigration and refugee system, coupled with renewed Immigration raids have created an even more precarious situation in Toronto, home to thousands of people living without full status.
Non status people are being systematically shut out of schools, food banks and hospitals, and harassed at women’s shelters by Police and Immigration Enforcement while rebuilding their lives. Migrants are exploited at work, and threatened with deportation when attempting to unionize. Immigration enforcement is attacking people in their homes, at work and on the streets.
But we are taking back our city. One shelter at a time, one food bank at a time, one health care centre at a time. Breaking the walls, fences and borders in Toronto, we are creating a Sanctuary City that ensures justice and dignity for all.
Jan. 7, 2010 TORONTO - Hundreds gathered at 2757 Kipling Avenue on Thursday evening, staring at the building from which Alexander Bondorev, Aleksey Blumberg, Fayzullo Fazilov and Vladimir Korostin fell to their death on 24 December 2009. Dilshod Mamurov is still in the hospital.
Saddened and enraged community members from the neighboring buildings joined Toronto residents and unionized workers to pay their respects. In the flickering candlelight, Chris Ramsaroop and Farrah Miranda began the somber gathering.
"Our organizations, No One Is Illegal - Toronto and Justice for Migrant Workers, spend our days in communities working with people without full status that work without protections, that are exploited, that are deported, that are killed. Today is about marking all those deaths, all those injustices".
After years of tireless organizing by Caregivers Action Centre, Migrante, and many other groups and allies across the country, Immigration Canada extended the number of years within which Live-In Caregivers can apply for permanent status. Minister Kenney also acceded to removing the second medical test required to gain permanent status. This is proof that grassroots organizing can win changes.
Migrants in Canada under the Live-in Caregiver program (LCP), largely women from Caribbean countries and the Phillipines, must currently complete 2 years of domestic work within 3 years in order to apply for permanent status. The changes announced today would extend the time period from 3 to 4 years, and allow caregivers to count the hours worked towards the 2 years, potentially reducing the amount of time to be able to apply for status. The requirement for a second medical test prior to applying for permanent residence has also been removed for caregivers.
Live-In Caregivers and their allies have won a significant victory in ensuring status for migrants. But these changes are not enough. The LCP still ties a person's immigration status to their employer, and continues to exploit women and put them in a vulnerable position based on their status.
The Toronto Star - Nov. 24, 2009
Gerald and Kimberly Lizano-Sossa from Costa Rica. Mathew Nguyen from France. Rawad Reda from Lebanon. Sarah Leonty from St. Lucia.
These youths, at one point or another living without legal status in the GTA, represent the otherwise voiceless and faceless people too afraid to attend school for fear they will be detained or deported.
Three years after their publicized stories prompted the Toronto District School Board to adopt the "don't ask don't tell" policy – keeping its schools from asking a student's immigration status at enrolment – advocates say non-status students continue to be hassled or are refused enrolment.
In an attempt to better inform school employees – from principals to office clerks – about board policy, advocates, with the support of Ontario elementary and secondary school teachers' unions, have launched a self-made video.
AN EVENING OF RESISTANCE
Because DEPORTATION IS VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
WED, NOV 25, 2009
International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
6pm Registration, 6:30-8:30pm
Innis Town Hall (2 Sussex Ave.)
Speakers, Theatre, Poetry, Music and more...
Every year, tens of thousands of women and trans-people travel across borders and check-points, empty their savings and make the difficult journey to Canada, leaving behind homes, families and sometimes children in search of safety. For economic security. For refuge. Often entering a system of temporary, exploitative work. Live-In Care-Givers and other migrant workers are being treated like disposable commodities by Canada. Women fighting back against violence are being denied status. Working for years. Unable to bring their families. Unable to unionize.
Enraged by this treatment and inspired by the victories of the DADT campaign in Toronto schools, the Women's Movement has risen up to demand Status for All. Shelters have opened their doors further to non-status women. Rape/Trauma Crisis Centres, Group Counseling Homes, Anti-VAW Shelters, Agencies and Community Organizations have organized to provide basic and essential support services to survivors of violence while mobilizing and advocating for a full regularization program.