Although many of our friends have been involved with refugee issues for several years, this year, as we all have seen, the crisis has become more and more acute around the world. As the numbers of refugees and migrants have grown, so have many grassroots efforts aiming not only to address the immediate needs of refugees, but also to challenge existing policies that create barriers to migrants gaining safety and stability in a new home.
For our next Salon, our guest speaker Sharmeen Khan will discuss some of this grassroots work, in Canada, in her presentation: “Internationalism and Refugees Welcome: Lessons from Canada's Mobilization for Migrant Justice”
About the presentation:
When images of the body of Alan Kurdi exposed the hardship and dangers of migration, the international migrant justice movement experienced a resurgence of activism and organizing. There were urgent calls and pressure demanding action from international and state governments to adequately respond to the largest refugee crisis since World War II.
In Canada, where the Kurdi family was trying to migrate to but were denied, migrant justice organizers mobilized over 50 coordinated and spontaneous actions across 40 cities in Canada. From large centers to small towns, communities have not only been demanding that the government open the borders to refugees, but are linking those demands to broader anti-colonial and anti-imperial struggles against displacement in Canada and across the globe.
Under the slogan "Freedom to move. Freedom to stay. Freedom to return" - communities across Canada mobilized quickly to challenge the current refugee policies of Canada and to expose the complicity of Canadian government policies and corporations in displacing people from their homes in the first place, in the form of resource extraction, militarism, and environmental destruction. Demanding dignity and safety for refugees and migrants, a national movement has emerged in Canada that engages in various forms of protest, direct action, consciousness raising, and mobilization.
Active in No One Is Illegal and Refugees Welcome, Sharmeen Khan will be in Budapest to share the lessons in Canada and its struggle to maintain momentum. As a way to connect the Canadian refugee migrant justice struggle internationally, she will explore how anti-racist and anti-colonial struggles need to be shared internationally for real gains to be achieved.
Sharmeen Khan is a member of No One Is Illegal, Toronto, an anti-capitalist, anti-colonial and anti-racist migrant justice group. She is also a founding editor of Upping the Anti: A Journal of Theory and Action (uppingtheanti.org). She has been active in activist media and community radio broadcasting for 15 years and is also a trainer and facilitator in grassroots media and anti-racism. She currently works at a labour union in Toronto and is also a researcher with the Media Action Research Group.