Executive Director's Message

A Message On Refugee Rights Day

Toronto / April 4, 2024

Dear OCASI Family,

Today we recognize the thirty-ninth anniversary of the Singh decision which confirmed that refugees are protected by Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This day and what it represents -access to justice for all who are resident on this land, is more important than ever as we bear witness to unprecedented numbers of asylum seekers arriving on our shores seeking protection and refuge.

In Sisterhood

Toronto / March 2024

The invitation to join a group of feminist sisters over a two-day retreat with a loose agenda and no plans for post retreat work was met with a hopeful sigh and a touch of skepticism. As I walked into the hotel lobby that Sunday evening after an uneventful ride from the airport to Gatineau, I was met by two of my African-descent sisters who had arrived earlier and had made themselves the unofficial welcome community. We hugged and I could feel the early loosening of the muscles in my upper back.

On Joy

Toronto / February 2024

How far have we come in these past four years when global consciousness was reawakened to the persistent and enduring legacy and practice of anti-Black racism, when for more than nine minutes we watched on television the snuffing out of breath from a Black man by the knee of a uniformed white policeman.

Bridging The Divide

Toronto / January 2024

2024 arrived amid the echoes of war for land and the richness it holds, in the various diasporas here in Ontario and across the country. From Palestine (Gaza) to Sudan; and Congo to Ukraine many of our communities here in our cities and towns are engaged in some discussion, debate, protest, anguish and fear for their loved ones caught in the violent power play of capital and its unrelenting greed.

Walking In Solidarity ...

Toronto / October 2023

“End renovictions! Bring back rent controls”! “What do we want”? “Rent controls”! “When do we want it”? “Now”!

The chants - the call and response of rallies and demonstrations of years past and current moments of protests, echoed faintly along University Avenue as a scraggly group of just over one hundred concerned residents walked from Toronto City Hall to Queen’s Park.

Race and Refuge: The Crisis Continues

Toronto / September 2023

It is anti-Black racism. Intentional or not, the result of a shelter and housing crisis and an ongoing flow of asylum seekers into the larger urban centres of Ontario - has resulted in hundreds of refugee claimants sleeping rough on the streets or unsustainably housed in makeshift emergency shelters in the halls of Black churches in the GTA. Many had been moved here by the federal government to appease and support Quebec’s capacity challenges.


Toronto / August 2023

And before I be a slave, I’ll be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free…

Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen….

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine

Shine all over the world…

By the river of Babylon, where we sat down, and where we wept, as we remembered Zion…