Tag Archives: migrant workers

Teaching Social Justice Through Action

j4mw

Last week at the 22nd Annual Labour Fair my (Pooja) class attended several sessions, but one profoundly affected us all. Activist Chris Ramsaroop from Justice 4 Migrant Workers (J4MW) came in and spoke to us about issues migrant workers in Canada face such as a lack of health benefits, sub-par living conditions, and low hourly wages. For many, this was the first they had heard about migrant workers in Canada. And so, many were surprised to learn some of the unsettling history around migrant workers and human rights violations.

To deepen our awareness on the issue, the following day we watched Min Sook Lee’s documentary “El Contrato.” This heart-wrenching documentary gave faces and narratives to the cases Ramsaroop spoke about the previous day. Students were deeply moved by the documentary, asking after:“What can we do?”; “How can we show we care?”

Wanting to take action, a moved student looked through the J4MW website and found there was something we can do: The J4MW group is looking for court support on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 (today) regarding migrant workers access to healthcare. To demonstrate support and solidarity, the J4MW wants to fill up the open court at Osgoode Hall to send a message. My class, along with two other sections eager to attend, will be in attendance at the court today.

I have deviated from my curriculum to make room for this issue my students (and I) have come to care so passionately about. I’ve seen students utilize an extensive range of literacies over just one week: they have organized themselves into groups to get to Osgoode Hall and back; they have conducted research on previous cases related to migrant workers’ access to healthcare in Ontario; and they have critically thought and discussed what it means to buy “local” produce in Ontario.

To learn more about the provincial court hearing today at Osgoode Hall, check out the link below:

http://j4mw.tumblr.com/post/80321298359/defend-migrant-workers-access-to-healthcare-in-ontario?utm_content=buffer9bc1c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch “El Contrato,” I  highly recommend watching it. Below is a synopsis and link to the documentary:

This documentary from Min Sook Lee (Tiger Spirit) follows a poverty-stricken father from Central Mexico, along with several of his countrymen, as they make their annual migration to southern Ontario to pick tomatoes. For 8 months a year, the town’s population absorbs 4,000 migrant workers who toil under conditions, and for wages, that no local would accept. Yet despite a fear of repercussions, the workers voice their desire for dignity and respect.a poverty-stricken father from Central Mexico, along with several of his countrymen, as they make their annual migration to southern Ontario to pick tomatoes. For 8 months a year, the town’s population absorbs 4,000 migrant workers who toil under conditions, and for wages, that no local would accept. Yet despite a fear of repercussions, the workers voice their desire for dignity and respect.

https://www.nfb.ca/film/el_contrato