THE BROCK NEWS:
Migration, Health Care among topics at Social Justice Forum
Posted by Samantha Craggs on Apr 4th, 2011
Craig Fortier (pictured below) of No One Is Illegal — Toronto, a group that fights for the rights of migrant people, will appear at the fifth annual Niagara Social Justice Forum April 9 at Pond Inlet.
The forum aims to build relationships between student groups, activists and community organizations working on social justice issues in Niagara.
The all-day forum will feature music, film and interactive activities on numerous subjects, including environmental issues, animal rights, health care and religion.
Other workshop topics include:
- Youth Homelessness: The Invisible Population
- Social Media: Your Movement Needs You
- Health Care Service Issues in Niagara
- Niagara Threatened by Motorway Madness
There will be art exhibitions, a performance by the WomEnchant Choir (4 p.m., Pond Inlet) and a free screening of the Gemini award winning Reel Injun. It will be shown at 6.30 p.m. at the onefortyfive Gallery, 145 King St., St. Catharines.
The forum is free and no registration is required. For information on free childcare and American Sign Language interpretation, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a full schedule, see niagarasocialjusticeforum.wordpress.com
Fortier, who grew up in Welland, described to The Brock News why he is involved.
Can you tell us a little about the workshop you’ll be leading?
No One Is Illegal (Toronto) is a group of immigrants, refugees and allies, which fights for the rights of all migrants to live with dignity and respect. The workshop will focus specifically on the links between colonization and migration and how the struggle for migrant justice affects all people in North America.
No One Is Illegal — Toronto opposes policies that cause displacement and exploit migrants. At the same time, it is part of our ongoing work to support and build alliances with Indigenous peoples in their fight against colonialism, displacement and the ongoing occupation of their land.
How did you become interested in this issue?
I grew up in Welland in the 1980s and 1990s when several plant closings and free trade agreements forced many people out of good jobs and into temporary and part-time work in call centres and other places. I was part of a big wave of young people in Niagara who were forced to move out of the region in search of job and education opportunities.
While studying accounting and economics at the University of Waterloo, I began to question the global economic policies that the governments of the wealthy countries (Canada, U.S., U.K., Japan, Europe) were trying to impose and their effects on both poor communities in the global South as well as working class communities (like Niagara) in the global North. I participated in demonstrations against the Free Trade Area of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001 and began to make links with people fighting against the forces of globalization that are responsible for displacement and exploitation. Upon moving to Toronto, No One Is Illegal was one of the few movements fighting to address these issues. I have been an organizer with No One Is Illegal since 2004.
Why is it important for the people of Niagara to be educated about this issue?
At the G20 meetings held in Toronto last June, the leaders of the 20 richest countries of the world agreed to policies of global austerity to address the economic crisis caused by the bailout of the big banks. In other words, these governments agreed to cut essential services like health care, education, employment insurance and to claw back our pensions to pay for those bailouts.
I think we will see unprecedented attacks on our social services over the next few years and another push to eliminate good paying jobs with part-time and temp work. Places like Niagara will be the hardest hit by these policies.
We need to begin a discussion in Niagara about how we can mobilize a unified struggle against more social cuts.
The online version of this story can be found at: