The packed ballroom buzzed with cheers of support from community members, migrant advocates, and politicians for Migrante BC Gala Fundraiser for Migrant Workers.
Guest speaker and Toronto’s noted social justice lawyer Fay Faraday, rallying for change to build migrant worker security and safety said: “We need to directly confront the values that are informing the choices that our government is making. We need to reject the normalization of temporariness and precariousness. Instead we need to rebuild a robust permanent immigration system that enables workers of all classes to arrive here with permanent status.”
“We know that if you’re good enough to work, you’re good enough to stay”.
In June 2014, former Conservative Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney announced a controversial overhaul to the Temporary Foreign Worker’s Program. The Conservative Gov’t restricted the amount of time migrant workers can stay in Canada with a “four in, four out rule” which makes it difficult to apply for permanent residency.
Migrant workers believe that this policy has absolutely put them at risk so they are rallying and putting pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for necessary reforms to make life easier for them.
Faraday pointed out that one of the most important issues and challenges that migrant workers faced is isolation. “Coming into a new country, working in isolated places, not knowing where to get help and one of the key things that Migrante BC does is outreach, to connect with those workers, organizing those workers, building connection, building trust, building community so that migrant workers can bring their stories and bring forward their experiences. Migrant workers can advocate for change themselves.”
In closing, Faraday commended Migrante BC for having a safe haven for migrant workers called the Bahay Migrante. “It’s a wonderful space where people can come together, a safe space to meet, a safe space to create art, to have a base for a social life. It is a wonderful rich home, it is a home that we all need, we need somewhere where we can be together, we can work collectively, and we can be safe at home. That’s what I imagine, that’s what we can do together on this journey. When we think about what we need to build together, we need to build that safety, that security for everyone so all of us can have decent lives and decent work.”
The first gala fundraising event by Migrante BC highlights the story of Hessed Torres in “I Am Here” followed by a meaningful presentation from KASAMA.