“The Niagara Wine Industry could not exist, nor could it achieve any of the success it will be celebrating during the Niagara Wine Festival, without the work of migrant agricultural workers. And yet, they are denied access to basic rights. …”
An Invite To All from Justice For Migrant Workers & Cinema Politica Network
Posted September 18th, 2016 on Niagara At Large.
First – Join us this coming Wednesday, September 21st from 5 to 8 p.m. in Brock University’s Thistle 258 (in the Brock Tower) for the St. Catharine’s Screening of Min Sook Lee’s documentary, ‘Migrant Dreams’!
The film is presented by Justice for Migrant Workers, J4MW and Cinema Politica Network, as part of the Harvesting Freedom Campaign’s stop in St. Catharines, Ontario in partnership with Brock’s sociology professor Jane Helleiner who teaches a third year Global Migration class and local community activists. Join us for the film, post-screening discussion and how you can support the Harvesting Freedom campaign i…n St. Catharines, Ontario!
We also invite you to the following event – On Saturday. September 24th, from 9 to 11a.m., a Demonstration at the Niagara Wine Festival Grande Parade Please join us at Montebello Park at the corner of Lake and Queen St for a demonstration to demand justice, and status, for migrant farm workers.
We will be giving out information to the public, and displaying messages from local migrant workers about their experiences. You are welcome to hold a sign in their place, or bring your own sign. We will have limited materials on site for people to create their own signs.
The Niagara Wine Industry could not exist, nor could it achieve any of the success it will be celebrating during the festival, without the work of migrant agricultural workers.
And yet, they are denied access to basic rights, and are made invisible through exclusion from this festival. We will be there to celebrate their work, and demand fair and equal treatment for ALL workers, and that they be granted permanent status upon arrival.
About Harvesting Freedom – “The year 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the migrant farmworker program in Canada. Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) will be marking this year with the Harvesting Freedom Campaign, a call on the Canadian government to finally allow migrant farm workers in Canada to access Permanent Immigration Status.
The Campaign starts in January of the 50th year of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers program and will include a Pilgrimage from Leamington to Ottawa in time for Thanksgiving season on October 2nd and 3rd, 2016.
The Pilgrimage will highlight the reliance on farm workers across its route as it crosses Southern Ontario and will culminate with a clear message to the Federal Government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:
Justice is 50 years overdue.
About The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program – “The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program is a labour-migration program that has brought thousands of Caribbean and Mexican migrant farm workers to toil in fields across Canada.
Migrant workers are tied to one single employer by their work permits and cannot change jobs, can be sent home by their employers at any time, have no access to Permanent Residency status and must return home after their contracts end, despite how many years they have worked in Canada.
Despite being described as a temporary migration program, the SAWP has supported Canada’s agricultural industry for half a century and is very much a permanent part of our industry and our communities. Migrant workers are granted few rights and protections in Canada. Many face deplorable living and working conditions and their employer will send them home on the first flight back if they stand up for their rights.
There is little to no government monitoring of health and safety on the farms or in the bunkhouses. When workers become injured on the job, employers and consulate officials send them home at the earliest opportunity, often before proper medical attention is sought.
Government agencies, like the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, fail to protect these injured workers by providing compensation – knowing that they return home to a life of poverty and ill health. As temporary migrants and not immigrants, most local community agencies are not allowed to provide them any support. Most migrant farm workers in Canada come from impoverished rural communities in Mexico and the Caribbean through the government-run Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program.
In the last 10 years the Canadian government has added and expanded the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. This program has allowed growers to also hire workers from other countries such as Thailand, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia and China to perform work for wages that Canadians prefer not to accept.
In agriculture alone, there were 45,000 migrant workers invited to contribute their labour to Canada but who the government refuses to permanently include into our communities.” For more information click on – : https://harvestingfreedom.org/
About Migrant Dreams – “A powerful feature documentary by multiple award-winning director Min Sook Lee (El Contrato, Hogtown, Tiger Spirit) and Emmy award-winning producer Lisa Valencia-Svensson (Herman’s House), tells the undertold story of migrant agricultural workers struggling against Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) that treats foreign workers as modern-day indentured labourers.
Under the rules of Canada’s migrant labour program, low wage migrants are tied to one employer. Local activist Cathy sets up secretive meetings with Evelyn, a member of Justice for Migrant Workers. They are the lifeline for a group of Indonesian migrant agricultural workers who find themselves trapped in a web of lies and coerced by threats of deportation from agents and greenhouse owners.
The workers, most of whom are women, have been recruited to work in Canada packing vegetables inside greenhouse operations, by agents who illegally charge upwards to seven thousand dollars in agency fees.
Unable to afford the levy, migrants use their Canadian wages to pay back their debt to the agents. The workers’ dreams are pinned to the hope that their two-year contracts will be renewed for another two years. Only ‘good behavior’ will secure a contract renewal. Speaking out is the last thing they can afford to do. But by the time we meet the group, comprised mostly of women, speaking out and resisting is the only thing left to do.” For more: http://www.migrantdreams.ca/
For more information on the above, click on – https://www.facebook.com/events/1062379470524010/
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TVO documentary on abuse of temporary foreign workers in Ontario. Scary