Executive Director's Message

The People Sector

October 11, 2017 - Farewell speech at OCASI Annual General Meeting by Ibrahim Absiye, President of OCASI - Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
(Reprinted with permission)

My fellow members of this Council, associate members and other colleagues, I want to take a few minutes of your time to talk about my feelings today about who we are as a sector. And let me begin with my own personal experience.

Emancipation Day and Canada's Record

Policy: 

August 2017 / Toronto - This August long weekend in Canada was a time for much discussion of what this civic holiday means for different parts of the country. In Ontario, there’s a mishmash of understanding of why we take off the first Monday in the month. For many it’s just a day off. For others (especially Torontonians and those in the Greater Toronto area) its Simcoe day and still for others, especially Ontario’s Black communities, its Emancipation Day, a commemoration of the end of the enslavement of Black people here in Canada* and throughout the Americas (1834).

Emancipation Day and Canada's Record

Policy: 

August 2017 / Toronto - This August long weekend in Canada was a time for much discussion of what this civic holiday means for different parts of the country. In Ontario, there’s a mishmash of understanding of why we take off the first Monday in the month. For many it’s just a day off. For others (especially Torontonians and those in the Greater Toronto area) its Simcoe day and still for others, especially Ontario’s Black communities, its Emancipation Day, a commemoration of the end of the enslavement of Black people here in Canada* and throughout the Americas (1834).

Immigration Levels, $15 Mininum Wage

July 2017

Over the past few weeks, my time has been taken up with government relations obligations: consultation with the Federal Minister responsible for immigration; discussions with the Provincial Ministry (of Citizenship and Immigration) and their new Refugee Resettlement Unit; participation on the Global Migration Compact Advisory Committee and my work on the Provincial Working Group charged with developing a roadmap for Income Security Reform.

The Singh Decision Matters in 2017

As far as we understand there are other pending amendments to which we must pay attention. For example, the clause dealing with dual citizens and the government right to deport based on criminality or ‘treason’ we know will be cause for great debate. Organizations like OCASI and the National Council of Canadian Muslims among other progressive organizations spoke out strongly against giving the government the power to revoke citizenship and deport dual citizens arguing that this set up a two tier citizenship regime which is fundamentally unfair. We argued that citizenship is a fundamental right that cannot be taken away. Our current federal government agrees and is seeking to reverse this part of the Citizenship Act through Bill C6.

Being Bold for Change

The weather outside as I write this belies the fact that it is mid-March and we are less than a week away from the official start of Spring. But the frigid cold temperatures we have experienced in the past week did not deter the tens of thousands of women, children and male and non-binary allies who showed up to celebrate and protest across the province as we observed International Women’s Day.

Marching for Justice

As I walked the cold Toronto streets on Saturday February 4, in solidarity with Muslim Canadians and with immigrants and refugees from the seven Muslim majority countries banned by Executive Order by the US President, I couldn’t help but reflect how different this Black Lives Matter Toronto led solidarity march was from the women’s march held in January on these same cold streets. There was the difference in numbers of course – sixty thousand at the women’s march versus a few thousand at the Muslim solidarity march, but even more important was the make-up of the crowd. At Saturday’s march the crowd was primarily young and of colour. Muslim women in hijab and bare headed, Black and Indigenous people, college and university students, young and not so young workers, activists, Faith leaders and representatives from the Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Yoruba, Akan, Voodun traditions,  Agnostics and Atheists all chanting and marching in solidarity, saying with one voice “not in my name’.

Pages