A caravan of migrants challenges federal ministers in Montreal

A caravan of migrants challenges federal ministers in Montreal

A caravan of migrants and allies organized by the Solidarity Across Borders network visited the offices of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ministers Mélanie Joly and Pablo Rodriguez on Sunday to ask for their mobilization for the regularization of undocumented migrants in the Canada.

A caravan of non-status migrants and their allies stopped at the offices of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and ministers Mélanie Joly and Pablo Rodriguez in Montreal on October 16 to demand a comprehensive and inclusive regularization program.  

“We are organizing this caravan today to send a message of solidarity to all non-status migrants in Canada and to carry their voice through this symbolic action,” said Safa Chebbi, spokesperson for Solidarity Across Borders outside Justin's office. Trudeau on Sunday afternoon.

The rally took place ten months after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau instructed Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Sean Fraser to “continue the 'Exploring Ways to Regularize the Status of Undocumented Workers Who Contribute to Canadian Communities' December 16, 2021.

This request was made following a massive campaign since the start of the pandemic in 2020 by activists in favor of “status for all”.

Dignity for all

The Federal Cabinet will in the coming months choose the criteria for the first mass regularization program for Canada's undocumented immigrants in half a century, whose number is estimated at 500,000. “Such an approach can be historic, if, for once, we do not turn our backs on this situation,” continued Ms. Chebbi.

“For the good of society and for humanitarian reasons, of solidarity and social justice, take a stand against xenophobia and do the right thing,” demanded Samira Jasmin, Ms. Chebbi’s colleague, from the government.

< p>We are human beings who have the right to live in Canada with dignity. We need a regularization program now, we don't want to be left out!

Samira Jasmin, spokesperson for the Solidarité sans frontières network

Solidarité sans frontières deplores the precariousness of undocumented migrants, who could move freely to take up available jobs if they were granted permanent residence status. “They already live and work here, but they cannot claim their rights or access basic health care.”

A caravan of migrants challenges federal ministers in Montreal

Participants in the caravan organized by the Solidarity Across Borders network on October 16 in Montreal. Photo: Karla Meza/Metro

Access to health and employment

“It has become very difficult to live in Canada since I was rejected by immigration,” said a Congolese mother participating in the caravan, who prefers to remain anonymous. “I am forced to accept undeclared, poorly paid work in order to be able to support my children and pay my bills and my rent.”

Her asylum application having been refused a few years ago, she is deprived of access to public health care. “I have problems with my eyes and I need to have a medical follow-up because I have anemia, it's very painful,” added the woman who has lived in Montreal since 2016.

Ms. Joly, you present yourself as a very human person, so we expect you to show your humanity. You are in charge of Foreign Affairs, you know how much Canada is involved in our countries.

Samira Jasmin, in front of Minister Mélanie Joly's office in Montreal North

“I am asking the government to grant me permanent resident status for humanitarian reasons,” said Brahima, an Ivorian who arrived in Quebec in 2019, who had his asylum application refused. Juggling precarious jobs in a tire factory and in a residence for the elderly, the father of the family deplores the administrative pitfalls at Immigration, which push migrants with temporary status to become undocumented.

“I live in anguish because I could be expelled at any moment,” he added.

Continuity of colonialism

“The precariousness of undocumented people and asylum seekers who have fled their country of origin is a continuation of the effects of colonialism. We must support these essential workers for our economy,” said Sohnia Karamat, speaker for the Parc-Extension Action Committee (CAPE), an organization dedicated to defending the rights of tenants and promoting social housing.

“Many families without status are investing in the education of their children in French for the future of Quebec, we must support them,” added the South Asian mother, who defends fundamental rights.


A caravan of migrants challenges federal ministers in Montreal

Photo: Karla Meza/Metro

Speaking to Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez at the last stop of the caravan, Ms. Jasmin exclaimed: “We are here to work with you to establish a new legacy for our society to recognize the equality of all . You have been a long time champion of multiculturalism, we need you, continue the fight now by supporting the regularization program.”

Mobilization across the country

Other activist groups delivered messages to federal cabinet ministers across Canada simultaneously on October 16 calling for permanent status now for the 500,000 undocumented people and 1.2 million other migrants. with temporary status in the country. 

A few days earlier, the Health for All network had published an open letter on behalf of nearly 1,000 health care workers across Canada calling for the granting permanent residence to all.

From 1960 to 2004, Canada had several regularization programs, the most important being the Rectification of status program created by Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau in the early 1970s.

Two regularization programs were launched during COVID-19, including the special program for refugee claimants working in the field of health.

< p>This text was produced as part of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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