Every spring, he left Mexico to pick crops in Canada. One year he didnʼt come home. We expose the terrible cost of migrant work
Artemio Rodriguez joined thousands of Mexicans who journey north each year to toil on Canadian farms. What his experience tells us about Canada’s migrant worker scheme.
TLAXCALA STATE, MEXICO—The lemon-coloured house set behind a bright blue gate is Blanca Islas Perez’s great pride. Nestled in a sheltered valley, it is surrounded by farm-studded hills that come alive every morning to the sound of roosters and dogs. But the crops that paid for the one-bedroom bungalow were grown nearly 4,000 kilometres away, in the apple orchards and tobacco fields of eastern Canada.
In 1984, Islas’s husband Artemio Rodriguez became part of an early wave of Mexico’s rural poor who migrate every year to plant and pick Canadian produce, hoping to provide his family a better life. Today, the couple’s front door opens into a small living room, where a portrait hangs
of the couple and their five grown children. Rodriguez has been photoshopped in.
In the decades since he first journeyed north, his family’s lives have changed in profound and unexpected ways, with two generations now bound to — and broken by — Canada’s Seasonal erations now bound to — and broken by — Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.
- Newspaper title
The Toronto Star
- File Attachments
- Economic sectors
Agriculture and horticulture workers
- Geographical focuses
Canada, Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, British Columbia, Other provinces, Federal, Nova Scotia, and National relevance