A Public Forum on Migrant Justice
Gabriel Allahdua was the guest speaker at a forum hosted by Cooper Institute and the PEI Action Team for Migrant Workers' Rights on October 29th.
Fifty people gathered in Charlottetown on a Sunday afternoon at the end of October to hear Gabriel Allahdua speak about his experience as a migrant farm worker, activist, outreach worker and now, author. Also on the agenda: a panel discussion with four migrant workers currently living in Prince Edward Island, as well as poetry and music by Tanya Davis, Julie Pellissier-Lush, the Gøod Company, and Jorge Peña and Mark Carr-Rollitt.
See the full report here.
Gabriel spoke passionately about the injustice inherent in the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the ways in which it discriminates and harms migrant workers. Local migrant workers, in sharing their own experience, said they felt validated by his words.
In small group discussions, forum participants noted that when workers come to Canada looking for a better future, they contribute to our economy and communities, but they face many challenges. The system, based on closed work permits and lack of access to permanent residency, creates vulnerability and fear and must be changed. Some ideas for action emerged:
- Organize and participate in events to increase awareness of the role of migrant workers
- Support individuals to share stories and identify the systemic roots of the challenges they face
- Engage and work within other action-oriented networks to advocate for change
- Advocate for access of all workers to Employment Insurance & Canada Pension Plan benefits
- End to closed work permits
- Ask the PEI government to provide health cards to workers on arrival in the province
- And importantly, lobby for Permanent Residency of workers, upon arrival in Canada