Thousands of migrants, advocates, and allies gathered at Christie Pits Park in Toronto on Sunday to demand Status for All. The rally started at 2 PM and it started to rain at about 1:45 PM, but the participants at the rally were undeterred. “I know it’s raining, but that just means you’ll remember today even more right!?” one of the organizers shouted from the speakers’ podium. The crowd cheered in response.
The Toronto rally was part of a coordinated, Canada-wide campaign organized by the Migrant Rights Network, a coalition of community organizations advocating for the rights of migrants.
Demonstrators gathered across Canada on Sunday with a simple demand but with monumental implications: Immediate Permanent Resident status for all migrants, including those arriving in the future.
The rally kicked off with a musical ensemble of drums and brass. The musicians and their instruments were getting drenched under the downpour, but their music was jubilant and energetic just the same.
That was the mood at the rally overall– indignation but also joy; frustration but also defiant celebration.
The rally featured a series of powerful speeches by speakers ranging from international students, to migrant farmers, to undocumented sex workers. Despite the diversity of their experiences, there were common threads running throughout their stories; oppressive encounters with the Canadian immigration system, challenges in accessing basic human rights like healthcare, and a collective confidence in not just asking for, but demanding immediate justice.
The rally marched to the office of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland at Bloor and Spadina to present their demands. It was a great day of solidarity, of camaraderie, and self determination for migrant workers and their allies. Much more could be said about the rally and the energy among the crowd, but I’ll leave you with the words of Caroline, an undocumented health care worker who was a speaker the rally:
“My Name is Caroline, I’m a member of Migrants Workers Alliance for Change. I came to Canada 4 years ago. I have been taking care of senior citizens of Canada. People with special needs. And I’m disappointed. I have been doing my best, to make sure to put smiles on the faces of these Canadians. And ever since I came into this country, I have been subjected to ridicule. I am here, to demand Status for All. I am demanding status for everyone without exception.
I have been subjected to ridicule. I applied for refugee status. I was denied. I appealed the decision. It was denied. I applied for PR, but I was denied. Then I applied on compassionate grounds, I was denied still. I have been forced to be on the streets of Canada over 4 months ago, because they wanted me deported. I am standing here, to demand, not just for me but for every other undocumented people standing right here. Why should we be treated this way? Do we deserve this? Do we deserve to be treated inhumanely? This life is modern day slavery, I have been subjected to hard labours. I work long hours. I can’t say no! When I am tired, I can’t say no. Do you deserve to live that way?
All human beings deserve to be treated rightly, we have the right to live happily in Canada. We have the right to live, and be happy with our family, to travel any time we wish to travel, to see our family. We want status for everyone. I am right here, standing on this podium, I am demanding justice. And I am asking, Justin Trudeau, Sean Fraser the immigration Minister, we are not begging you guys, we are telling you, give us status!
Permanent Residence for everyone, undocumented people. No one should be left out. No Condition. No one should be treated like a slave. No segregation. We are here to live, students, migrant workers, farm workers, healthcare workers, we deserve to live a good life.”
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