Members of the Board (left to right): Tam Goosen, Nigel Barriffe, Emily Mooney, Reshma Dhrodia, Audikesavan ‘Dharma’ Dharmalingam, Sarah Grzincic, Malika Mendez, Ilaneet Goren
other UARR Board members: Ainsworth Spence, Anthony Morgan, Gary Pieters, Kirk Mark, Nora Hindy, Oliver Walters, Winnie Ng Falkenstein
Act Now: Immigration Detainees on Hunger Strike in Ontario
Over 50 immigration detainees began to refuse food this morning at the maximum security Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, and the Toronto East Detention Centre in Scarborough calling for an end to indefinite detentions in maximum security prisons and protesting prison conditions that include lock-downs and solitaryconfinement. The immigration detainees are asking for a meeting with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to discuss their concerns.
Please help amplify their message!
CALL / EMAIL / TWEET at MINISTER RALPH GOODALE
Ask him to meet the detainees.
613-947-1153 / @RalphGoodale / email@example.com
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“We would like immigration detention to end and something more fair or realistic be worked out. We would like to meet with MPs. To me, the way immigration detention is right now, it’s cruel and unusual punishment,” said Toby Clark, who has been in immigration detention since August 2014. “If your country refuses to issue travel documents, some people are held months, some people are held years and there is nothing that they can do about their country not issuing travel documents.It’s sad that people are separated from their family in Canada for so long, they don’t get a second chance.”
Canada is one of the only countries in the world that does not have a limit on length of detentions. As a result, immigrants are imprisoned for indefinite lengths of time, without a charge, a trial or a release date.
“Immigration detainees are often on long lockdowns during the summer months, sometimes kept in their small shared cells for days in a row, unable to speak with their families, or get legal support,” explains Sharmeen Khan of Detentions Watchdog, End Immigration Detention Network. “The Liberal government came into power promising to do the right thing, these detainees have been organizing since September 2013 but no elected officials have met with them. Minister Goodale must meet with the detainees, and commit to upholding international norms and basic human rights by ending immigration detention. Many of these detainees are already sick, this hunger strike could put them in grave danger.”
Most recently, immigration detainees went on a hunger strike beginning April 21, 2016. Officials from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) met with them, but have not followed through on the promises they made. Immigration detainees have now re-initiated their hunger strike, and are calling for a meeting with elected officials.
“The Ontario and Canadian Human Rights Commission, lawyers and doctors, even the United Nations have all insisted that detentions should be the last resort, for the shortest time possible, and not in maximum-security jails. Why is Canada being a rogue nation, jailing people where they are dying?” added Khan.
One-third of all immigration detainees in Canada are held in Ontario provincial prisons, which are designed and operated for people facing criminal charges or serving criminal sentences. Immigration detainees are held here even though immigration is a federal administrative matter and immigration detainees are not serving sentences. Of the 15 known deaths in Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) care, at least 8 were being held in Ontario provincial prisons. Two of these people, Francisco Romero Astorga and Melkioro Gahungu, died in the same week in March of this year.
We will be releasing daily updates as the strike progress, follow #MigrantStrike on social media channels, and http://www.endimmigrationdetention.com for more.
SUPPORT #MIGRANTSTRIKEAct Now: Immigration Detainees on Hunger Strike in Ontario
The Urban Alliance on Race Relations is a non-profit charitable organization that works primarily and proactively with the community, public and private sectors to provide educational programs and research, which are critical in addressing racism in society.
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We are horrified and shocked by the tragic violence that occurred in Orlando, Florida on June 11, 2016. This was a clear attack on the LGBTQI2S community and Latino community, and an attempt to divide those who believe in a just, loving, safe, peaceful world.
We must come together and show love, solidarity, and support for our LGBTQI2S community within all the spaces we inhabit: our homes, our places of worship, our schools, our city, and around the globe.
We understand that as we grieve for the losses suffered in Orlando and are shaken by the threat to safety for our LGBTQI2S community, we must also condemn those who would use the event as an excuse to indulge in anti-Muslim rhetoric and Islamophobia. We cannot allow the tragedy in Orlando to fan the flames of religious intolerance against our Muslim sisters and brothers, many of whom identify as members of the LGBTQI2S community themselves. Toxic masculinity and all too easy access to firearms are responsible for the loss of countless lives in the U.S. and other parts of the world.
The Urban Alliance on Race Relations will continue to speak out and take action against homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia. We encourage our allies to do the same.
The Urban Alliance on Race Relations
UARR Statement regarding the ‘behind closed doors’ meeting with Mayor John Tory and “Black Community Leaders”
Mayor John Tory has arranged to meet with members of the Black Community behind closed doors on Saturday, April 22nd, 2016, according to a report today in the Toronto Star. This process must be transparent and the Mayor and Chief of Police should meet with community leaders in a public forum. The Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR) feel strongly that any discussion with “Black Community Leaders” that does not include Black Lives Matter – Toronto negates their ongoing work and contribution to the conversation on anti-black racism within policing, and runs the risk of failing to include the voices of the queer and trans folks whose lives are impacted deeply by anti-black racism.
The Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR) stands by Black Lives Matter – Toronto and will not attend this meeting with Mayor Tory and Police Chief Sanders behind closed doors. The continuing struggle for justice for Andrew Loku led by Black Lives Matter Toronto touched many of us within the city. We witnessed thousands of Torontonians out in the streets demanding a public meeting with Mayor Tory. For forty years, UARR has been drawing attention to systemic anti-black racism as experienced by community members who encounter the Toronto Police Service. These stories are not new – they are an unfortunate legacy that burden members of the Black community. UARR is in full support of the coroner’s inquest of Andrew Loku’s death and while we acknowledge that the coroner’s inquest will not assign blame, a jury will be asked to provide recommendations to prevent future deaths. As a leading advocacy group on race relations, we add our voice to the many others calling for an overhaul and complete review of the SIU, in addition to naming the police officers who shot Loku, and 21-year-old Alex Wettlaufer in March 2016.
The UARR applauds Michael Coteau, Ontario’s minister responsible for anti-racism, for committing the province to four public consultations across the city on the state of policing. UARR looks forward to contributing to those discussions.
Systemic racism continues to create unfair outcomes for racialized and indigenous persons in Ontario. We call for more emphasis on de-escalation techniques within police training, procedure and action, as did former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci and a Toronto coroner’s jury in 2014. This is crucial, as we know police are often responding to persons in crisis. We also note that countless community and healthcare workers across this city respond to persons in crisis everyday in skillful ways, without resorting to violence, and demand that the TPS do the same.
In solidarity with Black Lives Matter – Toronto, we also call for:
(1) the immediate release of the name(s) of the officer(s) who killed Andrew Loku and Jermaine Carby;
(2) that charges be laid against the officers who killed Mr. Loku;
(3) the immediate and public release of any video footage from the apartment complex where Andrew Loku was killed;
(4) an apology to the family of Andrew Loku and appropriate compensation; and,
(5) a review of the SIU with adequate consultation from families whose lives have been impacted by police violence.
The police can no longer respond to those in crisis with “triggers over treatment” and they must be held accountable when they do.
President, Urban Alliance on Race Relations
March 26, 2016
As an organization that contributed to the consultation process, the UARR views the March 22, 2016 release of new regulations prohibiting arbitrary race-based police street checks (carding) announced by the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services as a long-overdue step in the right direction. However, it falls short of addressing some of the key issues around police transparency, accountability, and commitment to addressing the root causes underlying the practice of carding: racial bias and anti-black racism that fuels racial profiling. The regulations also do not address the reality that black youth continue to be targeted by police in their neighbourhoods throughout our city.
The recent events involving the Toronto Police Service (TPS) handling of Andrew Loku’s killing and its violent response to peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters comprised of children, youth, adults, and elders remind us that anti-black racism continues to be deeply entrenched within the institution of policing. In order to restore trust in communities impacted by decades of racial profiling, some key questions remain and must be addressed both through policy and action:
What is the plan for implementing the regulations and what are the timelines, measurable benchmarks, and evaluation processes that will help hold TPS accountable?
What will happen to the data that has already been collected through carding and how will TPS ensure that data will not be used against individuals or have a negative impact on their lives and future?
What measures will be taken to address the culture of racial bias within policing beyond one-time training? Furthermore, how will TPS ensure that the training content and its execution adequately address key issues and lead to meaningful behavioural change?
We call for more emphasis on de-escalation techniques within police training, procedure and action, as did former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci and a Toronto coroner’s jury in 2014. This is crucial as we know as police are often responding to persons in crisis. We also note that countless community and healthcare workers across this city respond to persons in crisis everyday in skillfull ways, without resorting to violence, and demand that the TPS do the same.
The police can no longer respond to those in crisis with “triggers over treatment” and they must be held accountable when they do. Thus, the UARR also echoes the call by family members, mental health agencies, and other community groups for a coroner’s inquest regarding the death of Andrew Loku.
In solidarity with Black Lives Matter – Toronto, we also call for: the immediate release of the name(s) of the officer(s) who killed Andrew Loku & Jermaine Carby; that charges be laid against the officers who killed Mr. Loku; the immediate and public release of any video footage from the
apartment complex where Andrew Loku was killed; an apology to the family of Andrew Loku and appropriate compensation; a review of the Special Investigations Unit, with adequate
consultation from families whose lives have been impacted by police violence.
We are also in support of the African Canadian Legal Clinic’s aim to host a public education forum on the Ministry’s new Regulation.
Urban Alliance on Race Relations