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Report/Press release

Agriculture Workers Alliance Bits and Bites 2(23)

Date

2009

Authors

Agriculture Workers Alliance

Abstract

- International delegation of the Canadian Council of Churches visits the AWA Leamington Office

- AWA Members participate on the first Health Fair for Asian Migrant Farm Workers

- Book Launch and Photo Exhibition

Series title

AWA E-News

Responsible institution

Agriculture Workers Alliance

Full text

International delegation of the Canadian Council of Churches visits the AWA Leamington Office

An international delegation organized by the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) and a member of MESA chose the AWA Leamington office as one of its stops in its fact-finding and ground investigation mission on the status of temporary foreign workers (TFWs), seasonal agriculture workers (SAWs) and undocumented workers here in Canada. Stephen Allen from the Presbyterian Church in Canada, Toronto, coordinated the visit and the itinerary of the delegation.

The delegation included members of the CCC, the United Church of Canada, the Anglican Church, KAIROS, the United Church of Christ in Cleveland, Ohio, the Church World Service in Washington, D.C., the Centre for Ecumenical Studies in Mexico City, the Latin American Conference of Churches in Ecuador, the Jesuit Centre of Toronto, and other members from Toronto, El Paso, Texas, and Korea.

During their stop, Stan Raper, national coordinator of the AWA centres, and centre staff from the AWA Leamington office were on hand to provide as much information as they could regarding the struggles and issues surrounding these workers. Members of the delegation were given the latest AWA – UFCW Canada National Report on the Status of the Migrant Workers 2008-2009 and other material documenting many of the problems facing migrant workers.

After their visit to the centre, the delegation moved to meet with the priest from St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Leamington.

Group meeting of the International Delegation of the Canadian Council of Churches

AWA Members participate on the first Health Fair for Asian Migrant Farm Workers

The Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS) – a non-profit, community-based organization that provides HIV/AIDS support and prevention service to East and Southeast Asian communities in Ontario organized the first Health Fair for Asian Migrant Farm Workers in the Leamington Area.

Stan Raper, Alex Banaag, and Michael Forman from the AWA participated in the event by hosting a table and distributing materials to workers. A presentation about agriculture workers rights in Canada was also made. The presentation was made by brother Banaag and it was done in Tagalog to reach out to our Filipino brothers and sisters.

In the past few years, an increasing number of Asian migrant farm workers from Thailand and the Philippines have started to temporally live and work at farms and greenhouses in Ontario. Due to language barriers and the lack of information, Asian migrant farm workers are still not fully aware of health, social, and other services available to them. This event was part of the “Asian Migrant Farm Workers’ Health Promotion” project.

Alex Banaag from the AWA and Karen McNeilly from the Human
Rights Legal Support Centre outside the health fair.

Book Launch and Photo Exhibition

Like migratory birds, most of Canada’s 20,000 “guest” farm workers arrive in the spring and leave in the autumn. Hailing primarily from Mexico, Jamaica, and the smaller countries of the Caribbean, these temporary workers have become entrenched in the Canadian labour force and are the mainstay of many traditional family farms in Canada. Many of them make the trip year after year after year.

Vincenzo Pietropaolo has been photographing guest workers and recording their stories since 1984 – in the process travelling to 40 locations throughout Ontario and to their homes in Mexico, Jamaica, and Montserrat. The resulting photographs have been highly acclaimed internationally through many publications and exhibitions, including a travelling show curated by the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography that opened in Mexico City.

With a foreword by Naomi Rosenblum, his new book, Harvest Pilgrims: Mexican and Caribbean Migrant Farms Workers in Canada, is a beautiful and timely book of photography and exposition. It sheds light on a subject about which many Canadians know all too little.

Please join us for the launch of the book and meet the artist on Sunday, Oct. 18 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre in Hamilton, Ont. In the centre’s Main Gallery, an exhibition of the photos that inspired the book will also be on display. For more info see the attached flyer.

Links

Economic sectors

Agriculture and horticulture workers

Target groups

Public awareness

Regulation domains

Health and safety at work and Health care & social services

Geographical focuses

Ontario

Languages

French, English, and Spanish