Across Canada families gathered to enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend— a harvest mainly made possible by migrant agriculture workers separated from their families thousands of miles away. For hundreds of migrant workers in southwest Ontario, it was also a time to gather, as well as a chance to bring public attention to the exploitation migrant workers face under Canada’s temporary workers programs.
On Thanksgiving Sunday, more than 80 migrant workers, joined by UFCW Canada, AWA, Justica, Migrante and other community allies set out on a 50 kilometer Pilgrimage for Freedom March from Leamington to Windsor, Ontario. The route crossed some of the most intensive farming areas in Ontario — a province where the McGuinty government continues to deny agriculture workers the right to unionize, “because the government is tied so tightly to the corporate farm lobby,” said Stan Raper, the national coordinator of the AWA .
Later that evening more than 200 migrant agriculture workers gathered for Thanksgiving dinner hosted by the AWA centre in Leamington. A Thanksgiving reception was also hosted in Bradford, Ontario, by the AWA centre there. And in St. Rémi, Quebec, the AWA Centre hosted a festive outdoor Thanksgiving street party to honour the workers who put the food on our tables.
“The workers who harvest our food certainly deserve our thanks and respect,” says National President Wayne Hanley, “on Thanksgiving, and every day of the year.”
Vol. X No. 42 • October 25, 2010