In recent weeks and days, many harrowing instances of mass deaths have been in the news.
In Palestine, attacks by the Israeli military resulted in hundreds killed, including 67 children. Last week, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc released preliminary findings of the unmarked and unidentified remains of 215 children at a residential school near Kamloops, British Columbia. On Sunday, a Muslim family was murdered in an Islamophobic attack in London, Ontario, killing a grandmother, two parents, their daughter, and leaving their 9 year old son in hospital and orphaned.
These deaths are connected by on-going laws and policies that dispossess and displace people from their communities, and the racist ideas used to justify them.
130 residential schools existed in Canada, created by the Canadian government and Catholic church. 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were taken from their families and placed here. The schools were sites of abuse and neglect. Indigenous children were punished for speaking their languages and practicing their culture. Thousands never made it home.
Canada’s residential school system is part of an ongoing campaign to tear apart Indigenous communities that have lived here for generations before Canada’s existence, to enable the theft of land and install what is today “Canada”.
These policies are not ancient history: the last residential closed in 1996. Today, while Indigenous children are 7% of the youth population, they represent 52% of children in foster care. On-going housing and drinking water crises continue on Indigenous reserves across the country; disproportionately high rates of poverty, homelessness and incarceration among Indigenous people are the horrific proof that these colonial policies continue to do their devastating work.
The Canadian government violates treaty rights and Indigenous laws to build oil and gas pipelines and continues to fight residential school survivors in court who are demanding the compensation that is owed to them. These attacks are being resisted, a powerful movement insists on LandBack and justice. Learn more by watching this animated video on the movement.
This is the same Canada that has exported $57 million worth of weapons to Israel, including $16 million in bomb components, since 2015 and has voted against 166 UN resolutions criticizing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians since 2000. Remember that Palestinians make up the largest group of refugees in the world, 5.6 million of the 26 million refugees supported by the United Nations, many of whom live in Gaza, that was the site of Israel’s latest attacks.
While Canada was created from theft of land, it now imposes immigration rules to deny rights to us. Primarily racialized and working class migrants like us are excluded from protections and benefits so that our work can be devalued for the profit of the rich.
This week also marks one year since the deaths of Bonifacio Eugenio Romero and Rogelio Muñoz Santos. Virtually nothing has been done to ensure no more migrant farm workers die preventable deaths. Already in 2021, 9 farm workers have died, 6 of them in federally regulated quarantine. That is to say, the accountability for their deaths is with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The call for full and permanent immigration status is a call for an end to a system of deadly racialized exclusion from rights, protections and dignity. As migrants, we must demand an end to colonial violence within Canada and throw our support behind struggles for Indigenous rights and liberation.
We are not simply asking for rights under Canadian laws based on colonialism – we must challenge the violent and unfair nature of this whole system. We must join together and demand that Canadian laws and policies do not force more people out of their homes anywhere.
That is why on June 20th – World Refugee Day and Father’s Day – we will take action for full and permanent immigration status for all and for just relations with Indigenous people. Actions are already being organized in Toronto (1pm EST, Immigration Headquarters, 74 Victoria Street) and Vancouver (10am PST, CBC Plaza). Join in or organize your own.
Together, we must win.