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Raising a Solidarity City

Status for All march takes to the streets this Saturday

by Tim McSorley

Raising a Solidarity City

This Saturday, Montrealers are taking to the pavement to strengthen the foundations of their own Solidarity City.

At noon, the third annual Status for All march in support of undocumented migrants and immigrants to Canada facing precarious living conditions will kick off at the corner of Jean Talon and Boyer.

This year, original organizers Solidarity Across Borders is being joined by other Montreal groups including No One Is Illegal-Montréal, Dignidad Migrante, the Immigrant Workers Centre and JOC-Montreal, as part of the country-wide Solidarity City campaign.

“There are hundreds of undocumented people across this country in cities, who work in the most precarious jobs,” said Nakita Sunar, a spokesperson for the march. “We're building a movement that rejects that precarity.”

Solidarity City hopes to broaden the movement of support for new and undocumented migrants, by involving individuals and organizations from all sectors of society, says Sunar. This ranges from medical practitioners, to employers, to educators, to neighbors and co-workers.

The campaign is calling for access to free health care in clinics, access to free education, that immigration officials should not have access enter or arrest people in hospitals, clinics, shelters, schools, or any space providing essential services, and that access to social welfare services – from food banks to social housing – regardless of immigration status.

More broadly, says Sunar, the hope for the march is to help in “breaking isolation and fear, and striking common ground” with other residents of Montreal.

To that end, the march will be going through the neighborhoods of Park Extension, Villeray and Petite-Patrie, neighborhoods with large recent immigrant populations. While many undocumented people are unable to participate in this kind of event, says, Sanur, the hope is that by walking through their neighborhoods will allow them to see the level of support and solidarity and help break through some of the isolation that having precarious status can bring about.

Just as much, she says, it's about bringing out people who have status and citizenship, and who are in a position to provide services and help in order, over the long term, to make living conditions for all residents of Montreal, that much better.

There are also three very specific demands for this years march, focusing on recent issues of: a stop to all deportations, an end to detentions (upwards of 100 people are currently being held at the Centre de prevention de l’immigration de Laval), and an end to "double punishment." Double punishment, say organizers, is the fact that migrants face not only threats of immigration reprisals but also often face criminalization and racial profiling from police officers and other legal authorities.

While there's optimism about building this movement in Montreal, Sunar says organizers aren't naïve of the challenges they face now that the Conservatives have a majority government. Pointing to the imminent re-introduction of the Conservative's immigration reforms that would more easily place new immigrants in detention, and the rise of deportations throughout the previous years of Conservative rule, Sunar says community organizers are gearing up for a tough battle.

But there are plans for an explicitly anti-Harper contingent in the march, and organizers are holding out hope that by building stronger networks of support that they will be able to make a tangible difference in the lives of migrants in Montreal, and across Canada (Solidarity City & Status for All movements are also active in other cities like Vancouver and Toronto).

The campaign won't end with a march either. There are plans for two upcoming support sessions for undocumented or precarious migrants at the Immigrant Workers Centre in Park Extension.

“The biggest thing is that we don't want this campaign to just be one thing,” says Sunar. “We want this struggle to continue and involved people in building mutual aid and support.”

Details:

STATUS FOR ALL!
March for justice and dignity for all migrants and refugees
SATURDAY, MAY 28, 2011
Gathering at NOON
Jean Talon & Boyer, just east of métro Jean-Talon
MONTREAL

Support sessions:

Sunday June 5 at 1pm and Wednesday June 8 at 7pm Immigrant Workers Centre 4755 Van Horne, suite 110

Video by Solidarity Across Borders: www.solidarityacrossborders.org


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