by Steve da Silva
The moral backlash that Canada’s largest and most profitable bank, RBC, was met with when news broke earlier this month that they were using foreign workers to replace dozens of their IT staff has developed into a wider scandal that is engulfing virtually all of corporate Canada and all of Canada’s political parties.
It is no secret that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has been growing rapidly, tripling in a decade to more than 338,000 workers by the end of 2012. As has been pointed out, this is a larger workforce than that of Canada’s smaller provinces.
The moral outrage sparked by the outsourcing of 45 of RBC’s IT staff reflects a sense of indignation amongst Canadians – as if a line had been crossed. Many seem to be reflecting a feeling that they’ve been lied to, and were under the impression that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program had been limited to jobs like being caregivers or tomato pickers (which are actually part of separate programs, the Live-In Caregiver Program and the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program), jobs that “Canadians don’t want” or in industries facing only temporary labour or skills shortages. After all, as the government website for the program reads, “The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) allows Canadian employers to hire foreign nationals to fill temporary labour and skill shortages when qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents are not available.”
As an employer, here is how you make a “Canadian” job suitable for a migrant worker: Drive wages down to rock bottom, break or block union formation, and minimize safety regulations. Then no one takes your job. But don’t worry! The TFWP will help you! Apply for a Labour Market Opinion from the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada saying that you couldn’t find enough workers in the required fourteen day advertising period, and bang! Not only do you have a cheap labour supply, but you have workers that are stuck with you as an employer, workers who can’t unionize, and who you can pay 15% less than the minimum wage. This trend is sweeping across the economy.
Temporary foreign workers are working in all sectors of the economy. In the weeks following the news, one source reported that eighteen of Canada’s largest fifty employers are on the list of users of the TFWP, including: Shaw, Sun Life, RIM, Maple Leaf, Air Canada, Canadian Tire, Financière Manuvie, Rona, Rogers, Sears, BMO, Bell, Thomson Reuters, Bombardier, Scotiabank, TD Canada Trust, Loblaws. Other notable employers of TFWs include Lulu Lemon, Hudson’s Bay Company, Bank of Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart, Walmart, Telus, Enbridge, Sobeys, CN Rail, Porter, Tim Hortons, SNC Lavalin, CP Rail, McDonald’s, Suncor, and Talisman Energy. The total number of employers now using TFWs is 33,000. Other noteworthy employers on the list include the Bank of Canada, CBC, and the Girl Guides. With an official joblessness level sitting at 1.4 million people, it should become clear where this outpouring of indignation comes from.
Not only has the scandal spread to virtually all of corporate Canada, it has spread to all of Canada’s political parties too. After some righteous posturing from the Conservatives pretending as if they weren’t aware of such uses of the program and some vague promises about immediate reforms, they have now deflected criticism by revealing active support for the program by the opposition parties. The Conservatives released this past week a series of personal letters written by Liberal and NDP MPs – including Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, NDP Status of Women Critic Niki Ashton, and NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar – making personal appeals for the use of temporary foreign workers in their ridings.
So all political parties have more or less supported the Program, and virtually all sectors of economy are using temporary foreign workers. Yet the moral backlash remains centered not on the super-exploitative and often abusive and dangerous conditions that temporary foreign workers have endured for decades, but rather on the concern that the TFWP has begun to cut into “Canadian jobs” and that it has far surpassed the mandate of the program to fill short-term labour or skills shortages. This is a line of thinking that is being actively encouraged by the media, with what seems like ‘two sides’ to the debate arguing over whether this or that job can or should be filled by citizens. And to the extent that this moral backlash in the media reflects popular sentiments of anxieties over people’s jobs and livelihoods, it is understandable. Rising consumer and student debts with fewer job prospects and employment insecurity is a reasonable basis for anxiety. But we can’t let those who are responsible for generating these social insecurities – all levels of government and the businesses that get them elected – leverage them for their own purposes.
The moment we workers – those of us who rely on our labour to survive, who make others rich by our work – buy into this logic of there being certain jobs that are suitable for “Canadians” and certain jobs suitable to foreign workers, we’ve already lost the battle. We’ve lost because we’ve already accepted that a divided working-class is acceptable, divisions which are only hardened by differing immigration statuses and racial lines.
But we don’t have to accept these divisions. Workers looking for real alternatives to capitalism and a way to resist capitalist “austerity” shouldn’t get pulled into this debate of where we draw around which jobs are okay for the super-exploitation of foreign workers. The capitalists and their governments will go on creating whatever hiring practices and wage systems are necessary, no matter how exploitative, to make their profits and “compete” in the global capitalist economy.
In any case, the job of workers is to organize against these capitalists. Just as immigrant workers did in militant and courageous ways in the late 19th and early twentieth centuries, so too we will and must today. Hopefully today, with greater unity and support from workers with citizenship and status.
As the May 1st Movement and its allies have called for this coming May Day, we need a Solidarity City – a city of organizations and alliances united against capitalist austerity, imperialism and colonialism, and united through a network of people’s power in this city and far beyond it that is actually capable of bringing forth a new economy and a new society.
by Jordy Cummings
A few years back, were you as dependent on your cell phone as you are now? I thought not. Now that you’re hooked, big business is gonna jack up the price.
Music player, camera, video games, social media, schedule, all in one handy little device, what the business press call “mobile devices”. Capitalism’s constant drive to innovate in order to stay afloat and make a profit has produced a little device has more raw power, more memory, and a higher resolution than the top-of-the-line computers from only a few years ago.
There are three major telecommunications companies in Canada: Bell, Rogers, and Telus. Some small players have entered the game with discounted, albeit lower quality service.
An inherent factor to capitalism is towards concentration. The big fish swallowing little fish, or sometimes the little fish join together and become yet another big fish. Instead of competition between corporations, there is competition within corporations or competition between different monopolies. When a new product is introduced, producers compete by lowering prices, getting you hooked. Then, like a dope pusher, the prices get jacked up and you no longer have a landline, and they’ve got you strung out with a three year contract and a phone that’ll maybe last a year, tops. Your boss is used to having you at his beck and call to answer emails, and your social existence has become tethered to your device. So you’ve got no choice, unless of course you want to go cold turkey, and the boss and your friends aren’t going to be happy about that.
Meanwhile, the small players on the market are at loose ends. Wind Mobile in particular seems to be looking for a buyer and there has been a rumor mill circulating about Rogers engulfing it. Others point to a chance that some the smaller players- Wind, Mobilicity and Public Mobile- may merge into a mega-corporation. Either way, the virtue that these smaller firms offered working class people, is cheaper voice plans and more flexible contracts, albeit often with problems such as inferior reception or limited geographical range. They filled a market niche and even encouraged the larger companies to lower wireless bills, which have come down 10 percent in the last few years. Surely, any loss that the larger corporations took from decreased “talk” rates was offset by exorbitant growth in data usage.
But with these firms struggling, this will mean the end of cheaper phone plans and flexible contracts, and either the entry into, or replication of, the big Rogers/Bell/Telus machine. This is what happened with Fido, which had very decent service including the popular CityFido plan, but when it was taken over by Rogers it stopped offering that plan and stopped being a real option.
A lot of people will say that with less corporations competing for your mobile device usage needs, the price will inevitably go up – so the solution is for there to be more choice on the market. But this is only how capitalism operates in the first phase of any new product coming onto the market. To simply think that having more companies will, in a sustainable way, keep prices down is to ignore the fundamental logic of how the system works. Certainly, consumer advocacy campaigns aimed at discouraging monopolism in the mobile sector should be supported. But we should also call for publicly owned data networks, free and accessible data and telephone service, and for the infrastructure of telecommunications to be managed as a public utility. All of the important benefits that mobile technology has brought to our lives can then be sustained, while cutting out the capitalist logic of profit.
By Barrio Nuevo
On the eve of Presidential elections in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, people from a number of cities came together to form a Canada-wide network to support the Venezuelan process of social transformation, debunk myths and lies perpetuated in the media, as well as denounce acts of aggression or interference by the Government of Canada in the affairs of Venezuelan people.
Organizations and groups from Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, Kitchener, London, Hamilton, the First Nations were among those gathered in Ottawa to discuss the actions to support the Bolivarian Revolution, the legacy of President Hugo Chávez, and the future president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro.
The more than 120 delegates agreed to:
• Support the Bolivarian Revolution, the legacy of Comandante Hugo Chavez, the construction of socialism, the independence of Latin America and the Caribbean, and the eradication of capitalism
• Deepen the Solidarity, the exchange, and brotherhood among peoples of Latin America and Canada
• Gather Canadian organizations and groups to join the Venezuela Solidarity Network, in order to support and defend the Bolivarian Revolution.
Further, participants were asked to remain alert to any maneuvers to destabilize the country following the Presidential elections.
The candidate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) for President, Nicolas Maduro, edged out the right-wing candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski of the MUD by just under 300,000 votes. Capriles, the favored candidate of the western imperialist powers, declared that he would not accept these results and called his supporters to the streets in protest. Supporters of the right-wing parties responded to these calls with violence, killing 6 supporters of the Socialist Party the day after the elections. Moreover, these groups attacked social programs identified with the Bolivarian Revolution including community health centers and people’s markets, while also targeting offices of the Socialist Party and its leaders. Public and community media outlets including Telesur were also targeted and journalists threatened.
“The right-wing has tried to claim fraud in every elections that they haven’t won,” said Santiago Escobar, Toronto spokesperson for the Venezuela Solidarity Network (VSN). “Despite their claims to be democratic and peaceful, their actions show that they are little more than US sponsored fascists who have no regard for the lives let alone the will of the Venezuelan people”.
Recently, federal Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis has been working with Venezuelan opposition groups in Canada to target the Bolivarian government. Karygiannis, also the Liberal Multiculturalism critic, went to Venezuela to observe the elections and met with Capriles and other members of the MUD.
The VSN, whose plans include opposing and exposing these plots against Venezuela being organized here in Canada, will hold another meeting this coming fall in Montreal.
by Christina Soto
Since last September I have received a monthly $100 cheque in the mail, money that sits heavily in our family pocket book. If I didn’t really need it I would rip it up and throw it in the trash. It is a cash incentive from the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) and it comes with a price: the cost of a National Childcare program and the overall well-being of our children.
The National Childcare program would have been a first step towards a real childcare system in Canada. However, it was cut by Stephen Harper (within three hours of taking office) in favour of this $100 a month plan. An extra $100 for a family is insignificant in the big picture and makes little impact to the actual cost of childcare.
Last month, the UCCB “celebrated” its seventh year. During this time it has cost Canada $15 billion dollars, but we have little to show for it. But parceling it out eliminates the possibility for a national childcare structure that would build regulated quality care and make families lives easier.
Instead, families have limited options.
For people in the upper income brackets there is a myriad of choices; including the Live-In-Caregiver program. For working-class families, our hostile government has left us scrambling to find our own, usually expensive, solutions. In Quebec families pay $7/day, that is $154/month. In Ontario, a space runs from $1000-$2000 a month. This is completely unreasonable for most families and especially for those of us struggling to get through difficult economic times.
In light of this, some families have been forced to innovate, to band together to form Community-Run Childcare collectives. These collectives share the responsibilities of childcare amongst parents and aim to provide quality care for children. The philosophy of the collectives also runs completely counter to the individualism espoused by the UCCB (“Here’s a $100, go spend it” versus “Let’s work together and build something”).
A report published just last year from the United Nations reprimanded Canada internationally for its human rights failures on childcare. The U.N. Committee for the Rights of the Child called on Canada to fulfill their human rights obligations with regard to childcare. The report showed that only 20% of our children have access to care. While 900 thousand children have access to care almost 5 million do not.
In a global assessment of children’s health and wellbeing, Canada isn’t doing very well either. A recent UNICEF report shows that Harper’s Canada has failed our children. Compared to the rest of the world’s “rich” countries, Canada ranked poorly, landing in the bottom third of the list due to our childhood poverty rates. 1 in 7 Canadian children live in poverty. This is a grand shame.
The early years, 0-3, are the most critical in childhood development. In this increasingly inequitable society, families have to struggle to meet the basic needs of their young children. Now they also have to battle, on their own, to ensure access to childcare. High quality childcare is as important as access to good housing, healthy food, and education for the health of our communities. The short sighted thinking of the UCCB is only increasing the burden on individual families, negatively affecting the overall well-being of our children.
Thankfully, in times of pressure communities can come together and create innovative solutions. If you are interested in building a community parenting collective in your neighbourhood, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christina Soto is a parent and member of the Revolutionary Women’s Collective, a people’s organization that highlights women’s struggles around the world.
by Tom Keefer
The Two Row Wampum is one of the oldest treaty relationships between the Onkwehonweh (original people) of Turtle Island (what Indigenous nations called North America before European colonization) and European immigrants. This treaty was made in 1613 between the Dutch and the Haudenosaunee as Dutch traders and settlers moved up the Hudson River into Mohawk territory. The Dutch initially proposed a patriarchal relationship with themselves as fathers and the Haudenosaunee people as children.
According to Mohawk historian Ray Fadden, the Haudenosaunee rejected this notion and instead proposed that:
“We will not be like Father and Son, but like Brothers. [Our treaties] symbolize two paths or two vessels, travelling down the same river together. One, a birch bark canoe, will be for the Indian People, their laws, their customs and their ways. The other, a ship, will be for the white people and their laws, their customs and their ways. We shall each travel the river together, side by side, but in our own boat. Neither of us will make compulsory laws nor interfere in the internal affairs of the other. Neither of us will try to steer the other’s vessel.”
Well aware of the political and military strength of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Dutch agreed with the principles of the Two Row. As was their custom for recording events of significance, the Haudenosaunee created a wampum belt out of purple and white quahog shells to commemorate the agreement. The Indigenous legal scholar John Borrows described the physical nature of the Two Row Wampum as follows:
“The belt consists of two rows of purple wampum beads on a white background. Three rows of white beads symbolizing peace, friendship, and respect separate the two purple rows. The two purple rows symbolize two paths or two vessels traveling down the same river. One row symbolizes the Haudenosaunee people with their law and customs, while the other row symbolizes European laws and customs. As nations move together side-by-side on the River of Life, they are to avoid overlapping or interfering with one another.”
The Two Row Wampum treaty made with the Dutch became the basis for all future Haudenosaunee relationships with European powers. The principles of the Two Row were consistently restated by Haudenosaunee spokespeople and were extended to relationships with the French, British and Americans under the framework of the Silver Covenant Chain agreements. It was understood by the Haudenosaunee that the Two Row agreement would last forever: “as long as the grass is green, as long as the water flows downhill, and as long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the West”.
While 2013 marks the 400th anniversary of the introduction of the Two Row to Europeans, it is important to note that the concept of the Two Row and the idea of reciprocal relationships of peace, friendship and respect between different entities has a much deeper connection to the Haudenosaunee world view.
The Two Row is a foundational philosophical principle, a universal relationship of non-domination, balance and harmony between different forces. The Two Row principles of peace, respect and friendship can be extended to any relationship between autonomous beings working in concert. These include nation-to-nation relationships, dynamics between lovers and partners, and the relationship between human beings and our environment.
While the Two Row Wampum was created to commemorate the introduction of the Dutch Republic and is derived from Haudenosaunee traditions and philosophy, it is also consistent with the outlooks of many other Indigenous peoples seeking to accommodate themselves to the sudden arrival of Europeans on Turtle Island. Almost universally, Indigenous peoples extended their hands in peace and friendship to the newcomers to their lands, and sought to improve their lives through trade and friendship with these newcomers. But at the same time, Indigenous people were intent upon maintaining their own ways of life.
The Two Row can function as a framework for decolonization right across Turtle Island, since holding true to the Two Row means supporting the right of Onkwehonweh people to maintain themselves on their own land bases according to their own systems of self governance and organization. These traditional Indigenous systems are opposed to the values of the capitalist economic system. Rather than being driven by notions of “profitability” and production for markets, traditional Indigenous economics are based upon localized subsistence production taking place in harmony with nature.
In this framework, people do not “own” land, but belong to the land as a part of creation and safeguard it on behalf of coming generations. In most traditional Indigenous societies, resources and wealth were shared, and production was geared towards meeting human needs, rather than the of commodities to be bought and sold on the market.
The Two Row Wampum remains a treaty relationship that Haudenosaunee and other Indigenous nations defend today, even if the Canadian state has failed to uphold the principles of the treaties it inherited from the British Crown. Since the capitalist economy which so degrades and exploits the majority of non-Indigenous people has proven incapable of upholding this agreement, it is time for those who support Indigenous rights on the non-Indigenous side of the Two Row to reclaim these principles. We should not be surprised that the rapacious British Crown and the imperialist Canadian state is not willing to respect the self-determination of Indigenous peoples or uphold the Two Row Wampum. But that doesn’t mean that the majority of people in Canada cannot be won over to living by the principles of genuine peace, respect and friendship with Indigenous peoples on this land.
With the rise of a new cycle of Indigenous struggle through the Idle No More movement, and with the global crisis of capitalism intensifying, the 400th anniversary of the Two Row Wampum is a perfect moment for us to start redefining this relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
For more information about the Two Row Wampum, please visit http://tworowsociety.com/.
by ILPS-Canada Commission in Support of Indigenous People’s Struggles
For many years it has been clear that the struggles of Indigenous people represent a clear threat to Canadian capitalism and its state. Oka (1990), Gustafsen Lake (1995), Ipperwash (1995), Burnt Church (1999), and Caledonia (2006) have become place names symbolizing militant Indigenous resurgence. Each of these direct confrontations over land between the Canadian state and Indigenous people gained national and international attention and served to remind us that a major contradiction within Canada is the struggle of Indigenous people against colonialism.
In recent months, we have seen the birth of Idle No More (INM), a new movement for Indigenous land rights.
INM protests swept across Turtle Island over the past several months. Bridges, railways and highways were blocked, malls and intersections were filled with round dances, hundreds of teach-ins and public meetings took place, and the movement exploded on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. While the protest organizers sought to keep the movement firmly within pacifist boundaries, it is undeniable that INM has opened up new possibilities for resistance.
It is important to note that while the INM movement has captured the popular imagination and inspired a new generation of Indigenous activists and non-native supporters, grassroots traditionalists have long been active in resisting colonialism. Whether continuing to defend Kanonhstaton, the Six Nations reclamation near Caledonia, resisting border authorities in Akewesasne, or in blocking pipeline construction on Unist’ot’en lands in “British Columbia” and countless lesser-known struggles, grassroots Indigenous activists have “Never Been Idle.”
While INM was able to mobilize considerable resistance against Stephen Harper’s legislation, the movement faced significant shortcomings. The first of these came from the movement itself. Because INM was primarily focused around making moral claims and expressly limited itself to pacifism – going so far as to discourage nonviolent direct action such as occupations and blockades – it was going to be inevitably ineffective in struggling against a ruthless government that was deeply set in its ways and unwilling to budge. The Harper government was prepared to let Chief Theresa Spence starve on her hunger strike.
Because none of the actions carried out under the INM banner grew into the kinds of spectacular confrontations seen in Oka, Caledonia or elsewhere, the INM movement was able to fuel pan-Indigenous political consciousness but not repeal the government legislation being protested against. In part, this occurred because of a specific strategy undertaken by police forces to avoid confrontation with protesters and to allow the protest to “burn themselves out”.
Another key factor has been the relative weakness of forces on the Left and throughout other oppressed and exploited communities to connect with the grassroots struggles of Indigenous people. While many non-natives participated in INM activities, the explosion into activity of INM revealed how inadequate the relationships of the left are to those struggling in “Indian country”.
Fortunately, there are some indications that this dynamic is beginning to change. At the October 2012 General Assembly of International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS-Canada) in Toronto, delegates came together from some 20 organizations representing grassroots anti-imperialist forces. What was particularly significant about this conference was the level of participation from Indigenous activists from a variety of different communities and the links that they made with other oppressed and exploited communities fighting the same opponents.
One of the outcomes of the conference was the creation of the ILPS Commission in Support of Indigenous People’s Struggles. The mandate of the Commission was set to make serious and ongoing connections with Indigenous communities across Turtle Island in order to learn from their struggles, connect with international anti-imperialist struggles, jointly advance campaigns and altogether strengthen a united front against Canadian imperialism and colonialism.
In February 2013, ILPS organizers traveled to northern Ontario Indigenous territories, Savant Lake and Mishkeegomang, home to some members of the Commission.
Gary Wassaykeesic, Mishkeegomang delegate to the ILPS Commission, said:
“I wanted (ILPS organizers) to view some of the housing conditions, the severe overcrowding, the real conditions we live in… So it was a success because (they) came up and visualized everything I talk about… I hope it happens again… There’s a lot of potential now… I don’t think they made a crack in the door, I think (they) opened the door for other people, other organizations to come in and do what ILPS wants to do… And you’re coming into a community where that’s what people need right about now.”
If connections like these can continue to be forged between Indigenous peoples struggles and the grassroots people’s struggles across united within the ILPS and across Canada, then the alliance of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist forces can actually begin to turn the tide of attacks of Canadian colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism against the people. With greater unity, defeating pieces of legislation like Harper’s Bill C-45 Omnibus bill will be the least of our tasks.
For more about ILPS–Canada, visit: http://www.ilps-canada.ca.
Statement and Call for Solidarity On International Women’s Day 2013 by the International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Canada
As we raise our fists on International Women’s Day, we stand in solidarity with women around the world struggling for genuine liberation.
Over 100 years ago, The International Working Women’s Conference suggested March 8 to celebrate and unite the resistance efforts of working women around the globe. That day is now known to be International Women’s Day. This year on March 8th we call on all people to remember and celebrate the roles working women play in advancing the struggle against imperialism, capitalism, colonial occupation and patriarchy.
Working class women are among the most oppressed sectors of society, but they are also one of the most resilient. Organizing against imperialist aggression, capitalist exploitation and patriarchal values, world wide working class women, peasant women and other toiling women struggle for just and living wages, safe working and adequate living conditions, and ultimately an end to capitalist super-exploitation.
From Turtle Island, Palestine, the Philippines and Tamil Eelam, women are confronted by sexist violence that is rooted in capitalism, occupation, imperialism and patriarchy. During the past 20-years in Canada over 600 Indigenous women have been murdered or gone missing. These deaths and disappearances have gone unpunished and unexplained by the Canadian state whose policies result in femicide against Indigenous women to further facilitate the theft of ancestral land. The Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) of the Canadian state has turned Filipina women into a captive workforce, where the violence and exploitation of employers is undocumented or erased. Rape has been used historically as a tool of imperialist occupation and war, as too many Tamil and Palestinian women can attest.
While working class and marginalized women bear the brunt of capitalist exploitation and imperialist aggression, women have never been idle. And on March 8th, 2013 we encourage everyone to rally in solidarity with women’s liberation struggles around the world.
As brothers and sisters united against imperialist and colonial aggression, we will not bend before the exploitation and violence. We will fight, we will struggle and we will continue resisting until women’s liberation is achieved. Women’s liberation is tied to the liberation of the oppressed classes and peoples and cannot be realized until the capitalist patriarchal system that thrives on gender, class, and racial inequalities is smashed.
ILPS Canada calls for an end to the economic exploitation of women, an end to sexual violence against women, an end to colonial occupation and imperialist aggression!
By Rhea Gamana
I used to say that activists, especially the youth, were just complaining, paralyzing the traffic, and that they should do more productive things rather than going out to yell on the streets. I used to say to myself that they should just go abroad and earn a living. Then they would have a better life and could be able to provide their families. I changed my attitude when I reunited with my mother. Now I understand why they do those things. I am now one of them.
My mother used to be a government employee in the Philippines, but since her salary wasn’t enough to provide for us, she decided to come to Canada and be a live-in caregiver. She left my brother and I behind. This is a common story for Filipinos.
In the last four decades, a Labour Export Policy (LEP) has been implicitly implemented to address the economic crisis in the country. This is not a long-term and people friendly solution to poverty.
The Philippine economy does not have a national industrialization plan to end underdevelopment. Instead it depends on remittances from overseas Filipino workers. Their numbers continue to rise under the administration of current President Benigno Aquino III. The LEP divides families. There are now 4500 leaving every day to work in different countries. The Philippines is the number one source country of migrants to Canada.
I was a good student and daughter in the Philippines. I took care of my family. Yet I was always sad that I couldn’t speak to my mother face-to-face if I needed advice from her.
When the time had come that we were going to reunite with her, I was nervous but happy. Prior to coming here in Canada, we attended a few orientations where they told us that Canada was a better place to achieve the future I wanted.
My Philippine educational attainment was considered nothing here in Canada. I had graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English, and wanted to become a lawyer or a teacher. A week after our arrival here in Canada almost 7 years ago, I applied for a job at a fast food chain.
I resigned myself to working as a part-time cashier while waiting for the right time to go back to college. After working for almost a year, my workplace got robbed. I thought I would die that day. The robber pointed the gun towards my stomach, and hit my head on the cash register.
That day changed me. I was diagnosed with PTSD, and that lasted for three years. This was not what I expected from a country like Canada. It was not what was described to us in the pre-departure orientation session we received in the Philippines.
According to a study titled “Filipinos in Canada: Economic Dimensions of Immigration and Settlement” by Dr. Philip Kelly of York University, Filipino immigrants have the highest educational attainment of all migrant groups yet still tend to be deskilled. For example, if I was a nurse in the Philippines, I could only work here as a nanny or personal support worker. In my case, I wasn’t able to use my education here in Canada at all.
Research also shows that children of Filipino migrants make less money than their parents and have a lower educational attainment. According to Statistics Canada, 32% of first generation Filipinos have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 28% of the second generation.
The Philippines is a semi-colonial country, which means that the country itself is not independent and remains under the control of Western imperialism. The Philippines is a semi-feudal nation. Big business landlords and elites exploit the natural resources and the cheap serf-like labour of the country. This results in the displacement of families who then migrate to urban areas or to other countries to find a better living.
It makes me wonder why the Canadian government only allows one family member to come to Canada if they need more people here.
The Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) is a program of the federal government allowing Canadians to import temporary migrant live-in caregivers, known around the world as domestic workers.
If they complete the program they can become Canadian citizens and sponsor their family through the reunification program. This takes an average of seven years, sometimes more. That’s a long time to be separated from your family. A long time spent taking care of the children of others, while your own need you at home.
This aspect of the program causes damage to family relationships, one that affects the children deeply—this I can tell you from personal experience.
Canadians need to be aware that we are part of this system. Not only here in Canada through our immigration policies, but also in the Philippines where Canadian imperialism contributes to forced migration. Part of our taxes goes to fund Canadian companies in the Philippines (especially in the mining sector), and Canadian military training of the Philippine armed forces to help protect those companies and forcefully displace Filipinos from the countryside through militarization.
I want a Philippines with true democracy and true independence. I want justice for the marginalized and underrepresented.
Today I am the Chairperson of Anakbayan-Toronto. We advocate for human rights, and we struggle for national industrialization that will keep Filipino families intact and ensure that no one will have to leave the country for a better life. I don’t want any child to suffer what I went through.
Anakbayan-Toronto will not stop calling for national industrialization and genuine land reform in the Philippines, This is the only way that Filipinos will be able to work decent jobs, and not have to leave the country.
The occasion of the 200-year anniversary of the War of 1812 has brought Tecumseh back into the spotlight. The Tecumseh that many Canadians have been presented with is a great native leader who fought for the British Crown and helped save Canada from the Americans. This victor’s image of history is presented with little detail about what Tecumseh and the great alliance of Indigenous nations he led actually fought for.
Tecumseh (March 1768 – October 5, 1813) was born near the Chillicothe, located in what is now known as Old Town, Ohio. His father Pucksinwah was the head of the Kispolotha clan, and was murdered by an American hunting party when Tecumseh was only six years old, leaving him to be raised by the Shawnee and guided by his older brother.
When Tecumseh was born, a great meteor was seen streaking across the sky. This meteor was recognized to have great significance and was called the Panther Spirit by the old men. Tecumseh’s father Pucksinwah gifted him with his name Tecumseh, meaning “Panther Across the Sky”.
At age eight Tecumseh was already exhibiting the characteristics of a great leader, and by the spring of 1783 he took part in his first battle against the whites. He continued to travel across the continent, inspiring many nations and gaining recognition as more than just a magnificent warrior, but was also a political statesman, a humanitarian, a visionary, an incredible orator, and to some a prophet.
The Shawnee, like many of the northwest nations, realized that their total elimination was imminent if they did not resist the invading nations (United States and British Canada), with their flood of frontiersmen invading their lands. Tecumseh concluded that the only possible method of opposing the advancement of invading white settlers was to successfully obtain the cooperation of all the Native Nations to act with one heart and one mind.
Over the course of a decade, Tecumseh travelled throughout Turtle Island, giving speeches that inspired the Delaware, Haudenosaunee, Wyandotts, Potawatomies, Wendakes, Ottawas, Chippewas, Winnebegos, Foxes, Sacs, Menominees, Lakota, Mandans, Cheyennes, Natchez, Choctaws, Creeks, Seminoles, Chickasaws, Alabamas, Biloxis, and Cherokees. He even met with many nations usually considered traditional enemies. Tecumseh stood strong and confident proclaiming: “Brush the slavery from your eyes and create your new power, your new society.”
Tecumseh never entered into any treaty negotiations and openly condemned those who did. In one such instance with American Governor William Henry Harrison, Tecumseh said, “How can we have confidence in the white people? When Jesus Christ came on earth, you killed him and nailed him to the cross.”
As the Americans and British were set to return to war in 1812, Tecumseh chose the lesser of two evils and allied his cause and supporters with the British.
Although he aligned with the British, he maintained a vision of an alternative society, a society where all Native Nations would come together, creating a civilization distinct from that of the white settlers. This was to be a vision where an extensive use of land would be shared by all Native peoples, solidifying their self-determination and maintaining ways of life in balance with Mother Earth.
The enemy that Tecumseh fought were the leadership of the white American settlers, which have since materialized into the superpower known as the United States of America, the leading imperialist force in the world today. This force wages war against nations all across the world in all aspects of life – environmental, social, physical, political and so on. The defeat of Tecumseh’s alliance only opened the way for the colonization of peoples all across the world.
Tecumseh’s temporary alliance with the British proved fatal after he was betrayed in battle. Although Tecumseh wanted to take a stand against American forces, he was encouraged to retreat to the Thames River where his forces would receive a full provision of winter supplies. Once on the Thames, General Henry Proctor promised to stand with Tecumseh, but Proctor and the other redcoats cowardly retreated, leaving the native forces to fight alone. On October 5th, 1813, Tecumseh was laid to rest in an unmarked grave. One can only wonder how different our continent would be today if Tecumseh and his alliance had survived and fulfilled its vision of an independent alliance of native nations.
At the bicentenary of Tecumseh’s death in battle, the potential to rebuild Tecumseh’s alliance not only remains, but is strengthened by the fact that many settlers and other newcomers are also under attack by capitalism. We can and must build on Tecumseh’s vision by strengthening the alliance between native nations, while also expanding it to include the unification of all nations from all directions, for the land and its people.
Giibwanisi is a founding member of the Anishinaabe Confederacy to Invoke our Nationhood (ACTION) and Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp, a land reclamation within the occupying ‘Awenda Provincial Park’ two hours north of Toronto.
International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Canada Statement for Feb 14
On February 14 Spirit Sisters and those that love them will be holding vigils and marches demonstrating their commitment to “NO MORE STOLEN SISTERS”. Indigenous grassroots women and those who stand in solidarity with them will be raising their voices and rallying in the streets demanding justice and for a national public inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women. We at ILPS-Canada share their demands, commitments, and will be taking it to the streets in support.
The first memorial vigil was held in 1991 in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in response to the murder of a Coast Salish woman on Powell Street. From anger, despair, and mourning women took action to create an annual march on Valentine’s Day to express compassion, community, and their commitments to end the disappearances of Indigenous women. The women’s memorial march continues across this land to honour the lives of missing and murdered women and to demand justice in their absence.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) under the Sisters In Spirit Program reports that over 600 Indigenous women have been murdered or gone missing over the last 20-years within the politically constructed borders of the Canadian nation-state. The deaths and disappearances of these women have been ignored, gone unsolved, and unpunished. Despite clear evidence that this is an ongoing issue, the federal government decided in the fall of 2010 to end funding to Sisters in Spirit. Instead monies in the amount of $10 million have been dedicated to a central RCMP missing person centre; an institution that has historically failed to adequately investigate into reports of disappearing indigenous women. Building on the momentum of past actions we must rally together against the continual feminicide of Indigenous women and the impunity of Canadian state institutions and actors that stand as gatekeepers preventing justice for all indigenous peoples.
We at ILPS-Canada extend our support and solidarity to the courageous women and Indigenous organizations working to ensure that the lives of our lost sisters not be forgotten. Their memories inspire us to continue to demand more for those with whom we share a sisterhood. We encourage those in our network to promote and attend the vigils and walks taking place. For a list of the Feb. 14th Memorial Marches happing please visit: http://womensmemorialmarch.wordpress.com/national/
Additionally, we at ILPS-Canada would like to acknowledge the valiant efforts being made by grassroots women’s organizations within our network participating in the One Billion Rising Campaign taking place also on February 14 (http://onebillionrising.org/). Organizations, such as GABRIELA-Philippines have been engaging in dancing flash mobs and awareness raising events linking violence against women to our current imperialist global order. We commend those in our network who will be rising on Feb 14 highlighting the connections between existing capitalist patriarchy, economic policy, development aggression, and violence against women. We salute these organizations not only for their ability to mobilize women and men to “STRIKE, DANCE, and RISE” on the 14th, but also for their ceaseless efforts to step-by-step organize and empower marginalized peoples toward becoming agents of change striving toward genuine democracy and equality.
Hence on February 14, we at ILPS-Canada will march and dance in solidarity with the Spirit Sisters here and our global sisters aboard to end violence against women. Let this day invigorate us to push forward with our continued commitments, efforts, and actions for the realization of national liberation, genuine democracy and social liberation, which will inevitably bring about equality in its many and varied forms.
ILPS-Canada ( http://ilps-canada.ca/) is a chapter formation of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (http://ilps.info/index.php/en/). We are an international network-alliance of anti-imperialist progressive peoples’ organizations. ILPS and it’s regional chapter formations promote, support and develop the anti-imperialist and democratic struggles of the peoples of the world.