Status for All! Casserole takes over the borough council of Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension
Tuesday evening (June 5th), dozens of activists demanding Status for All! participated in the local casserole gathering in the Villeray neighborhood. Armed with banners and pots and pans, they marched to Parc-Extension where they were met by local residents awaiting to greet them in solidarity. Together, the ‘casserole–players’ marched to the borough council of Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension and filled the council room with chants that made the councilors leave. Speeches were made to denounce the deplorable housing conditions in Parc-Extension, to demand an end to deportations and detentions, as well as the criminalization of activists fighting for social justice.
The Status for All! Casserole was a joint collaboration between residents of Villeray and Parc-Extension, and was organized by Solidarity Across Borders, the Immigrant Workers’ Center, No One Is Illegal and allies. We hope to continue participating in the Casseroles in different neighborhoods throughout the summer and reach out to diverse communities.
We live here! We work here! We’re staying here! No borders, No nations, Stop the deportations!
Photos & Report on May 26, 2012 Status for All! March
Video: Why we march
“In these times of economic and social crisis, government blames immigrants and non-status people. They become the undesirable, and immgration is painted as the source of all society’s problems. The Harper government is persecuting and blocking us. The current economic crisis favors a ‘security’ offensive and drives towards a social crisis. Non-status pay the heavy price, as asylum seekers are stripped of their social gains. Their rights and freedoms are affected” Aadi Ndir, Immigrant Workers’ Center.
On May 26, hundreds of Montrealers, people without immigration status and their allies, took to the streets under the banner Status for All! to call for a full and inclusive regularization program for all non-status people living and working in Canada, and to highlight the burgeoning development of a Solidarity City where everyone can exercise their universal rights to basic services without fear, and without economic barriers.
This is the 8th march of this kind since 2003 that brings Montreal migrant justice groups and local social justice organizations together to denounce the injustices of Canada’s immigration regime. Speakers highlighted the devastating impact of current immigration policies on peoples’ lives, and denounced the government’s proposed Refugee Exclusion Act (bill C-31) that will entrench a racist two-tiered system where asylum is based nationality.
The march began in the streets of the immigrant commercial district near Jean-Talon metro, overwhelming the Plaza St-Hubert with the sounds from the Chaotic Insurrection Ensemble, and chants like;
« j’y suis, j’y reste, je ne partirais pas
première, deuxième, troisième génération
on s’en fou, on est chez nous! »
The march then flooded into the Jean-Talon Farmers’ Market where Noé Arteaga Santos, member of Dignidad Migrante, spoke of the invisible yet indispensable labor of migrant farm workers. Arteaga Santos, a former temporary migrant worker, is waging a public struggle and has no permanent status. He is challenging a Quebec company at the Labour Board. The company, Les Serres du St-Laurent Inc which produces Savoura tomatoes, summarily fired and deported Arteaga Santos to Guatemala after he and other workers participated in a work stoppage to draw attention to the plight of a fellow worker, who was not receiving the medical treatment he needed. After returning to Canada, he launched a complaint to protest this and other unjust treatment by Savoura. Under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Programme (TFWP), Quebec agri-businesses increasingly rely on cheap “disposable workers” from Guatemala, Mexico and other countries in Central America and the Caribbean.
One marcher, Paola Ortiz, walked along chanting with the crowd;
« Del Norte al sur, del este al oeste, ganaremos esta lucha, cueste lo que cueste! »
Paola was able to return to Montreal after months of exile from her 2 small children left behind, following a deportation order last September. Paola’s deportation exposed the tragedy that immigration policies inflict on peoples’ lives. Immigration controls – such as deportation and detention – are an integral part of a punitive system that subject migrants to repression, and keep immigrants ‘in check’ by distinguishing the ‘deserving’ from the ‘undesirable’. Yet, Paola’s persistent struggle to return to her family here defied the dehumanization that is imposed by the immigration regime.
The march also joined the Villeray neighborhood assembly gathered in a community picnic at Parc Jarry in support of the student strike against tuition hikes. The marchers stopped in front of the office of Liberal MNA Gerry Sklavonous, who voted for Charest’s anti-demontration law 78 to denounce its illegitimacy, and to assert the popular defiance of a growing social protest movement. An organiser with the national social housing coalition, FRAPRU, denounced the systemic discrimination and deplorable housing conditions that poor immigrants and refugees face, while highlighting the need to develop a Solidarity city where everyone can exercise their rights, access all services and live in dignity and freedom from poverty and exploitation.
As the march entered the neighborhood of Parc-Extension, chants in Urdu, Hindi and Bengali resounded through the bustling streets. The South Asian non-status contingent proudly held a banner calling for a regularization program.
The march ended with a picnic in Parc Athena, a popular neighborhood hang-out, where people ate and relaxed in the sun.
The march is a public and festive display of a rigorous and painful struggle. We invite you to keep in touch as the attacks against migrants and refugees accelerates. The struggle continues.
No One Is Illegal!
Freedom to Move // Freedom to Return // Freedom to Stay