Project: Envisioning Just Immigration
Organization: Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) * Region: Ontario * Project Funded in Spring 2015
The Catherine Donnelly Foundation proudly supported the work of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) through our Adult Education project funding stream. MWAC is a coalition of organizations and groups committed to advocating for the rights of migrant and temporary foreign workers employed across Canada who often find themselves in poor working and living conditions. Through the provision of this grant, immigrant community members from diverse cultural backgrounds were trained in immigration and refugee policy issues as well as community organizing and group facilitation by using popular education techniques.
The project, entitled “Envisioning Just Immigration”, also included the elaboration of Adult Education train-the-trainer materials that were publicly made available to community groups and educators working with immigrant groups. Meanwhile, this project established a roster of community leaders that helped to organize gatherings and public meetings to discuss critical immigration policy issues in the run-up to the 2015 Federal Elections.
One of these trained leaders was Harriet Aikins-Mensah Morales, a Ghanian community leader in Toronto. Harriet works with African immigrants through a number of organizations and wanted to come to the program to help build up awareness and capacity in her community. After leading a number of sessions, she wrote about how people in her community were now engaged: “Some immigrants who are now citizens, promised to participate in making their voices count through elections and by supporting those that respect immigrants and indigenous people.” The project also experienced challenges, particularly when it came to building an inclusive learning environment that respected the rich diversity of group participants both culturally and linguistically, as well as differences in life experiences.
The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) is currently pushing for enhanced protections such as a full application of provincial labour laws and benefits for all workers, as well as access to permanent residency to ensure migrant workers’ status is not tied to one employer while in Canada.
This Adult Education project expanded MWAC’s focus from working on migrant worker issues to also engaging with the broader immigrant community. This helped to strengthen existing coalitions, locating the broader changes needed and connecting migrant workers with new immigrants, as groups can often be pitted against each other. MWAC has continued to mobilize Canadians by calling the Federal government to take action in ending discrimination against migrant workers.
The Catherine Donnelly Foundation was pleased to support this project as it applied Adult Education principles to engage marginalized communities while promoting values of justice and equity.
If you want to learn more about Migrant Workers issues in Canada, check out the Harvesting Freedom Caravan taking place in the fall of 2016. Migrant Workers allies like MWAC are mobilizing in cities across Ontario to demand justice and fairness for migrant farm workers.