Mr De Souza, a Toronto resident for 25 years, passed away on Saturday, January 18th but is yet to have a funeral, because the family is unable to afford the costs associated and the City of Toronto will not pay simply because Mr De Souza was undocumented. The City has asked Mr. De Souza’s family to declare the body abandoned after which they will put it in a box, and burn it instead of following their internal processes and subsidizing the funeral. If this happens, Mr De Souza's children will be unable to say their last goodbyes.
This morning at 10am, Family, friends and supporters of Rogerio Marques De Souza including members of No One Is Illegal Toronto, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, and other community organizations were outside Toronto Metro Hall, ready to demand that the City of Toronto provide him with a funeral subsidy like any other low-income Toronto resident so that his family can carry out his last rites.
However, a private organization stepped in to pay for the funeral which is now happening later today as a result of the Toronto Star story this morning. We postponed our action this morning but the family have resolved to make sure this never happens to anyone else in the city. We will be taking joint actions in the coming week. We cannot rely on the charity of individuals to step up each time while allowing laws and policies to continue to discriminate against undocumented people.
WHAT YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW
In the meantime, we need you to act
(1) Email the City of Toronto & Premier of Ontario
Email: Patricia Walcott, General Manager of Toronto Employment and Social Services at firstname.lastname@example.org and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne at email@example.com. Cc firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell them that in Feburary 2012, Toronto promised undocumented residents that they could live here without fear. Now, the city staff tells us that our communities can't even die with dignity. Undocumented people in Toronto deserve the same services as everyone else. Insist that this must never happen again. Let them know that neither municipal or provincial laws must shut out undocumented families. More background below.
(2) Comment on the exploding debate in the Toronto Star
The body of an undocumented migrant from Brazil has been sitting at a Toronto hospital morgue since Saturday because his three teenaged children can’t afford to bury him. Should the City of Toronto pay the costs? That question has set off an emotional debate on thestar.com - please go and participate!
** Should Toronto pay for an undocumented migrant's funeral? The debate in 9 comments
** City of Toronto refuses to pay for funeral of undocumented immigrant