January 2021 / Toronto
Mitho Makosi Kesikansi, Bonne année, Happy New Year, Heri ya Mwaka Mpya- regardless the language, the message is the same, best wishes/hopes/joy and happiness for the coming new year.
It is 2021 and a world of possibilities are opened before us as we continue to evolve our responses to the health pandemic and the social and economic inequities it has surfaced including the centuries old anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racisms; pandemics in their own right.
We are at the time when we must decide who we are as a society and how we are going to (re)imagine the co-creation of responses where the needs and aspirations of the most harmed amongst us are centred.
There have been many ‘recovery’ plans put forward by civil society organizations, activists and advocates - progressive voices finding consensus on what a Just society must include. Identifying priorities for public investments and naming the intersectional approach that is required to ensure that the historically marginalized are the voices amplified and the conditions that must first be addressed, has been a consistent approach across groups and coalitions and communities. This is a positive result from the increased coalition work in feminist and progressive working class and antiracism movements/struggles. It must continue as we dismantle oppressive systems and ways of being, and build new structures of organizing ourselves as a society.
With the availability of vaccinations in the geopolitical north the light at the proverbial end of this health crisis tunnel burns brighter. We must remember however that rebuilding of communities and our (re)imaginings must include a global focus ensuring that our governments are actively providing access to all positive health interventions for all countries and their residents across the globe.
One area we cannot lose sight off this year is immigration. The advocacy for regularization programs are bearing fruit but we must keep the pressure on for a broad, inclusive, flexible program for all categories including those who are undocumented.
I have borne witness to the stories of the thousands of Canadian residents who have been waiting months and in some cases years to be reunited with their families, including spouses/partners. The emergence and endurance of various spousal/family reunification coalitions over the past year is a testament to the heightened frustration felt by these individuals and groups that have been waiting for answers and action on their files.
We need answers. What is IRCC’s plan to increase resources to expedite and clear the backlog of spousal sponsorship applications?
What is the plan to expedite the travel and arrival of spouses and other family members already granted PR?
When will the Department investigate charges of racism against nationals of countries in the geopolitical south whose sponsorship applications of spouses and children are disproportionately questioned or refused including under Immigration Regulations on ‘genuine’ family relationships?
The Immigration Minister’s policy clarification regarding implied status for those with work and student permits was a welcome communication. Despite that, we continue to hear that some employers are firing migrant workers whose work permits have expired. Responses to these urgent concerns and questions being asked by many, who have put their trust in our immigration system and its processes, will be equally as welcome. Minister Mendicino, Canadian families and migrant workers are waiting.
To my sector comrades sharing this journey to social transformation - we are ready and we will win.