For thousands of undocumented immigrants across the country, cities such as Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are sweatshops. Immigrants and refugees work the most precarious and dangerous jobs. The Canadian economy cannot survive without this super-exploited work force, made particularly vulnerable by their lack of permanent status and the threat of deportation.
In order for their labour to provide this windfall for Canadian capital, non-status migrants are forcibly kept in a state of heightened vulnerability, deprived of access to essential services and basic social and economic rights. This apartheid system is maintained both through laws and regulations and through fear of discovery and deportation.
Everybody should have access to healthcare, education, social housing, food banks, unemployment benefits and any other social welfare regardless of immigration status. Labour norms and human rights should apply equally to all.
At a time when money and corporations can cross borders more easily than ever, these very borders are taking on an ever more deadly character for billions of people around the world. Solidarity City is the name given to the vision that resists this reality, that aims to transform our communities from sites of racist exploitation to places of mutual aid and support.
A Solidarity City is the creation of a community that rejects a system that engenders poverty and anguish, not solely for immigrants and refugees, but also for other Montrealers confronting these same realities.
We are opposing fear, isolation, precarity and division. We strike back with solidarity, mutual aid, support work and direct action.
We demand that:
- everyone living here should have access to free health care in clinics, CLSCs and hospitals. Medical facilities should never ask for information on immigration status. Instead, they should work to provide appropriate and respectful care to all users. We want health care to be accessible to all and support efforts to defend the public health care system.
- everyone living here should be able to attend school free of charge, regardless of their – or their parents – immigration status. We are in favor of universal education for all, from kindergarten to university, and defend accessible education at all levels and for all people.
- the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) should not have any right to enter and arrest migrants in hospitals, clinics, shelters, schools, or any space providing essential services; ultimately, the CBSA should not be welcome anywhere in our communities.
- any person living here should have access to social housing, food banks, unemployment benefits and any other social welfare regardless of immigration status.
The “Solidarity City” campaign is an attempt to generalize and broaden some key organizing principles that have been applied in migrant justice work in Montreal:
- breaking isolation and fear; attempting to network and unify around common, direct and straightforward demands (ie. status for all, as well as opposition to deportations and detentions);
- practicing tangible mutual aid and solidarity (support work) in contrast to charity or “service” approaches;
- organizing campaigns arising from on-the-ground realities;
- building the capacity of our mutual aid and support networks over the long-term;
- holding decision-makers directly accountable for their actions and policies;
- using direct action to achieve justice
Signing the Solidarity City declaration
In order to bring our vision of Solidarity City closer to reality, we are asking community organizations and centres, collectives, trade unions, healthcare providers, educational institutions, food banks, shelters, housing co-ops, and everyone else to commit to providing services equally to all, regardless of immigration status. As one important symbolic step, we ask these organizations and institutions to endorse the Solidarity City declaration.
By endorsing the declaration, an organization is agreeing to publicly support the Status for All campaign, meaning opposition to deportations and detentions as well as supporting regularization for all non-status migrants.
Moreover, if it is an organization that provides services, this means agreeing to:
- never ask for information regarding immigration status;
- treat all information regarding other people’s immigration status as strictly confidential, and never share it with government agencies;
- not charge fees based on immigration status;
- implement a policy of non-cooperation with the Canadian Border Services Agency, including barring them from your premises
- work to make sure that labour and other human rights standards are applied equally to all, without regard to immigration status, in our organizations, workplaces, and communities.
The declaration is endorsed and signed by:
- Solidarité sans frontières / Solidarity Across Borders
- Personne n’est illégal-Montréal / No One Is Illegal
- Dignidad Migrante
- Mexicains Unis pour la Regularisation / Mexicans United for Regularization (MUR)
- Centre des travailleurs et travailleuses immigrantEs / Immigrant Workers Center (CTI)
- Apatrides anonymes
- Assemblée populaire et autonome de Villeray (APAQ-Villeray)
- Association des Locataires de Villeray
- Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE)
- Café l’Artère
- Centre d’éducation et d’action des femmes (CÉAF)
- Centre des femmes d’ici et d’ailleurs
- Centre des femmes italiennes de Montréal
- Chaotic Insurrection Ensemble
- Coalition des familles
- Collectif opposé à la brutalité policière (COBP)
- Comité citoyen de Parc-Extension
- Comité Logement Ahunstic-Cartierville
- Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL)
- Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain-CSN
- Convergence des luttes anticapitalistes (CLAC)
- Coopérative d’habitation Le Peuplier de Pointe-Saint-Charles
- Coopérative d’habitation Port d’attache de Parc-Extension
- La Belle Époque
- Médecins du Monde
- Mouvement Action Justice
- P.O.P.I.R. – Comité Logement
- Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie (PASC)
- Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) at Concordia
- Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) at McGill
- Les Services juridiques communautaires de Pointe-Saint-Charles et de Petite Bourgogne
- Southwest Solidarity Network / le Réseau de Solidarité du Sud-Ouest
- Syndicat des auxiliaires de recherche et d’enseignement du Concordia (SAREC/TRAC)
We encourage Montreal-area organizations and groups to discuss and collectively sign this declaration. If your organization would like to endorse this declaration, or needs more information (including a presentation about the Solidarity City campaign) get in touch: email@example.com