Stay Relevant, Stay Real, Stay Radical: A Roundtable on the Solidarity City Movement in Canada

Mac Scott and Sherry Thorpe

Four years ago, No One Is Illegal Toronto organizers reflected on Building a Sanctuary/Solidarity City in the pages of Upping the Anti issue 11. Since then, there have been victories and new efforts that bring momentum to the movement. On February 21, 2013, Toronto’s Solidarity City Network successfully pressured the City Council to adopt a motion ensuring access to city services for non-status (im)migrants without fear of detention or deportation. The motion effectively declared Toronto to be Canada’s first official Sanctuary City for non-status people. On February 12, 2014, the City of Hamilton passed a similar motion. The Montreal-based migrant justice network Solidarity Across Borders created a Solidarity City Declaration and mobilized community organizations, collectives, trade unions, and service providers from all sectors to endorse the declaration and support access to services for all. In Vancouver, community members and organizers have discussed how to build a Solidarity City most relevant to local contexts in Vancouver, as well as to the broader anti-colonial migrant justice struggles.

In light of the efforts being made across Canada to achieve Sanctuary/Solidarity Cities, this roundtable features women of colour who have been organizing in migrant justice struggles in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Hamilton to describe the next stages of the Sanctuary/Solidarity City campaigns. With critical assessments of these movements and the challenges faced, this roundtable addresses the struggle of grassroots mobilizing and changing state policy and its radical potential to mobilize.

Karin Baqi is a migrant justice organizer. She has been involved with No One is Illegal - Toronto and its Immigration Legal Committee since 2007.

Shireen Soofi is a grassroots community organizer and facilitator. She began anti-colonial migrant justice organizing in Montreal with Solidarity Across Borders in 2012 and with NOII-Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories and Sanctuary Health since 2013.

Amy Darwish and Rosalind Wong are Montreal based organizers who have been involved with Solidarity Across Borders (SAB) – Rosalind since 2009, and Amy since 2013. They are also members of the Shelters, Not Borders! committee of SAB, and the Awan Family Support Committee. They wish to note that, despite some consultation with current SAB organizers, their views are grounded in their own personal experiences and perceptions of the Solidarity City campaign during a particular timeframe

Khaoula Bengezi is a member of the Hamilton Sanctuary City Coalition. A graduate in Globalization and the Human Condition at McMaster University, she is passionate about migrant rights and justice and advocates for such issues.

Josee Oliphant is a member of the Hamilton Sanctuary City Coalition and an advocate for women’s rights and migrant justice.


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