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(en) Canada, Montreal, "We didn't cross the border, the border crossed us!" (excerpts from the Solidarity Across Borders newspaper)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 26 Apr 2004 13:25:36 +0200 (CEST)

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Forwarded message from No One is Illegal Montreal* <noii-montreal@resist.ca>
[As part of the Solidarity Across Borders campaign in Montreal, an 8-page
newspaper was recently produced and published to highlight the issues and
demands of member groups, in English and French. The articles in the
newspaper include the following (by title):
* Struggling for Justice and Dignity for Migrants and Refugees
* Deportation and Detention: Two New Industries
* We Didn't Cross the Border: The Border Crossed Us!
* Repression and Displacement in Colombia
* The Struggle of the Action Committee of Non-Status Algerians
* Why are there Algerian Refugees in Canada? (interview excerpt with
Mohamed Cherfi)
* Pakistani Refugees Fight Racial Profiling and Deportation
* US-backed Fascism in Pakistan
* Kurdish Refugees in Montreal Face Difficult Situation
* Refugees in Sanctuary in Canada
* Here We Found Peace: Palestinian Refugees Resist Deportation
* An End to Torture! Say No to the Extradition of Basque Refugees
* Security Certificates: Canada's Own Guatanamo Bay
* Mexican Farm Workers in Canada
* The Live-in Caregiver Profram and its Impact on Filipino Women

The newspaper will be distributed locally. Included below are three
articles from the newspaper: the lead editorial, an article by a local
aboriginal activist, and a piece by a local refugee.

For more information about Solidarity Across Borders, please contact:
nooneisillegal@tao.ca or 514-859-9023.]



The Solidarity Across Borders campaign brings together individuals and
groups in Montreal directly victimized by Canada's immigration and border
policies, and their allies. From self-organized non-status refugee
organizations to support campaigns for jailed or deported individuals to
the urgent actions necessary to stop imminent deportations, Solidarity
Across Borders attempts to build genuine links between our diverse
struggles for social justice and dignity, between individuals and families
seeking a measure of control over their lives and destiny. The campaign is
rooted in the profound struggle for self-determination, justice and
dignity by migrants acting for themselves, and the strength that comes
when we are united to face and confront unjust policies, laws and
institutions together.

While modest in its origins and resources, the Solidarity Across Borders
campaign is part of an emerging worldwide movement: from hunger strikes
and riots inside immigration detention centres in Australia, to
occupations by migrant workers in South Korea, to direct actions that
have stopped deportations in France, people around the world are
challenging the victimization of migrants by the very governments that
force them to leave their homes. And these various campaigns are
starting to coordinate their efforts. Migrant workers and their allies
on both sides of the US-Mexican border have been working together to
oppose the fortification wall being built there. Here in Montreal and in
Toronto there have been solidarity actions in support of the migration
worker's union in South Korea. The No Borders Network has been formed to
bring together groups across Europe working for freedom of movement,
documents for all non-status people and an end to deportations. In the
last few years there have been border camps at the Mexico-US border and
throughout Europe to bring together people involved in these struggles.
A global movement is being born.

This movement responds to a context of global apartheid, where migrants --
whether refugees or immigrants -- are meant to be deferential and
invisible, and used selectively to justify the liberal and tolerant
self-image of Western states. In reality, the economies of the West are
dependent on the labour of migrants, whether "legal" or "illegal": people
who clean hotels, drive cabs, pick fruits and vegetables, provide domestic
labour, or work in fast-food kitchens, on construction sites and in
factories and sweatshops. The economies of the West would tumble
overnight if illegal and non-status migrants were to be expelled (as some
right-wing politicians openly suggest). Similarly, the West creates the
conditions for the original displacement of migrants by the policies of
neo-liberal globalization and militarization. These displaced people
number over one hundred million every year. It's an unjust process, which
in the end treats the victims -- migrants and refugees -- as the

There has always been racism in Canada's refugee and immigration policies,
built into the very structure of the system. The exclusion of Chinese
migrants after Confederation and the refusal of Jewish refugees from
Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II are two well-known examples.
Canada, a colonial project built on the brutal dispossession of the
indigenous peoples of Turtle Island, continues to uphold neo-colonial
policies that both exploit and exclude migrants who are overwhelmingly
from former colonial regions.

With new immigration and security laws introduced after 9-11, the racist
and regressive nature of Canada's immigrant and security laws have
increased. In particular, Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities have
been punished collectively by the exaggerated "border panic"
self-servingly created by security agencies and jingoistic politicians and

New laws and policy changes are transforming Canada and the US into
Fortress North America. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act has
made it more difficult to obtain status in Canada -- whether as an
immigrant or refugee -- while making detentions and deportations easier.
The new "smart border" agreement signed between the United States and
Canada, has institutionalized racial profiling by customs and immigration
authorities, and increased the militarization of the US-Canada border. The
"safe third country" agreement will allow the immediate removal of any
refugee claimant who enters Canada via the United States without due
process. This accounts for up to 40% of all refugee claimants. The
Anti-Terrorism Act, and other so-called security laws, provide
unprecedented powers to police and government officials, including
detention without trial and secret evidence. A new department of Public
Safety and Emergency Preparedness is taking over the responsibility for
deportations from Immigration Canada (casting migrant removals as an issue
of public safety).

In addition, new policy directives within Immigration Canada (CIC) and the
Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) show a clear trend of selecting only
highly-educated or rich "business-class" immigrants while creating
roadblocks to the great majority of migrants and refugees who come to
Canada. If today's immigrant "points system" were applied to the people
who came to Canada in the 1960s, 70s and early 80s, would have effectively
excluded an entire generation of people who now make up the fabric of
cities like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Instead of providing a fair
hearing to refugee claimants, the IRB acts as a confrontational tribunal,
populated by judges notorious for their incompetence, political
partisanship, and in many cases, corruption. Moreover, the new refugee
determination system has no appeal process for a rejected claim.

The new legal and policy changes, and the structural flaws are not
abstract. They have meant concrete injustices for thousands of fellow
residents in Montreal and across Canada. Many of the articles contained
within this newspaper tell firsthand tales of human suffering at the hands
of the Canada's immigration policies: people facing deportation to
dangerous, uncertain and even stateless situations; families forced to
seek sanctuary in churches to avoid deportation; Arab and Muslim men
detained without knowing the charges against them -- the list goes on. And
these are just a few examples that provide a glimpse into the unjust
reality of Fortress North America. The trend in Canada is a reflection of
an international reality, whereby millions of migrants from zones of
conflict and poverty are systematically scapegoated, exploited and
excluded by the policies of Western governments.

One response to the reality of global apartheid is to demand charity, or
exceptions for certain cases of injustice, without ever understanding that
the immigration, refugee and security system is rotten to the core.
Contrary to the charity or service approach, the Solidarity Across Borders
campaign sees strength in unity, and unabashedly demands the fundamental
changes necessary for a just and dignified solution to the plight of tens
of thousands of migrants and refugees in Canada. Real justice will come
when people who are directly touched by unjust policies, with their
families and allies, organize to educate and to act.



What are borders? What is the Canada United States border? To the
Kanien'keh?:ka (People of the White Flint) the boundary line that divides
the upper half of North America between Canada and the US is a fictitious
demarcation that slices throughout traditional unceded territory. The
territory in question-Kanien'ke (The Land of the White Flint)-was in
existence long before Europeans traveled to this beautiful land. In the
eyes of the Kanien'keh?:ka the boundary that separates Canada and the US
is merely a method devised by European settlers to settle their arguments
over what they stole from the Indigenous nations of Turtle Island. The
Kanien'keh?:ka see the bickering of these Europeans as the bickering of
thieves fighting over the spoils of their crime. As Indigenous people we
make no distinction between the US and Canada, there is no difference
between our lands on either side of the imaginary line created by
Europeans for Europeans.

For the Kanien'keh?:ka and their sisters and brothers in the Haudenosaunee
(Iroquois Confederacy, Onondaga spelling) have rights to freedom of
movement and freedom of commerce which predates the advent of Canada and
the United States of America. These rights are entrenched in our
constitution the Kaienerakowa (The Great Law of Peace) and are ratified by
the following treaties: Kaswentha 1645 (Two Row Wampum Treaty), Treaty of
Canandaigua November 11th 1794, Treaty of Amity Commerce and Navigation
the Jay Treaty November 19th 1794.

Kaswentha of 1645 is the oldest of the treaties, created between Europeans
and the Indigenous peoples of this continent. The Kaswentha was initially
a non-aggression pact as well as a treaty guaranteeing freedom of movement
throughout North America for Kanien'keh?:ka and other Indigenous peoples.
The Kaswentha is a wampum belt with a white background with two parallel
bands in purple running the length of the belt. Wampum belts are mnemonic
instruments used to record treaties and events. They were made from beads
formed from the inner parts of the Atlantic Conch shell. The symbolism of
the purple bands running parallel on a white background is likened to two
canoes traveling down a river. One canoe does not cross in front of the
other, nor do the occupants of either canoe try to be in both boats at the
same time, hence one does not interfere with the other and each has the
right to determine their course in life. The non-interference stipulations
of Kaswentha served as the basis for all-proceeding covenants and treaties
signed with European powers and their offspring -- the United States of
America and Canada.

The two preceding treaties --Treaty of Canandaigua [US and Haudenosaunee]
and the Treaty of Amity Commerce and Navigation the Jay Treaty [British
and Haudenosaunee] -- were signed immediately following the war of 1776
fought between the British and their fledgling children who called
themselves Americans. The two 1794 treaties were signed to once again
ratify the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples to live, travel, and
trade on either side of the fictitious boundary separating the two
quarreling European brothers, as well as recognition of the sovereign
rights of Indigenous peoples. It had become necessary for the
Haudenosaunee to be signatories to the above mentioned treaties because of
the extensive involvement of Haudenosaunee warriors who fought on both
sides of the conflict. The Grand Council of the Haudenosaunee felt that
certain guarantees were needed to ensure Haudenosaunee sovereignty. These
treaties were also one method used to ratify the unity of the
Haudenosaunee, given the divide created by the war of 1776 among
Haudenosaunee nations. The war of 1776 was in many ways disastrous for the
Haudenosaunee, especially the Kanien'keh?:ka who were ethnically cleansed
from New York State by George Washington whom we named Ratinokwatektha-the
village burner. Therefore it had become necessary for the Haudenosaunee to
have these treaties and assurances that the genocidal campaigns of the US
military against Haudenosaunee people would be ceased:

"ARTICLE 4. The United States having thus described and acknowledged what
lands belong to the Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senekas, and engaged
never to claim the same, nor to disturb them, or any of the Six Nations,
or their Indian friends residing thereon and united with them, in the free
use and enjoyment thereof."

The Jay Treaty of 1794, describes the protection of the inherent rights of
navigation, travel, and trade. Article III of this treaty states:

"It is agreed that it shall at all times be free to His Majesty's
subjects, and to the citizens of the United States, and also to the
Indians dwelling on either side of the said boundary line, freely to pass
and repass by land or inland navigation, into the respective territories
and countries of the two parties, on the continent of America."

Furthermore the Treaty of Canandaigua guarantees and ratifies the earlier
treaty of 1645 Kaswentha in that no European power shall interfere with
the internal business and politics of Haudenosaunee peoples and their

"It is clearly understood by the parties to this treaty, that the annuity
stipulated in the sixth article, is to be applied to the benefit of such
of the Six Nations and of their Indian friends united with them as
aforesaid, as do or shall reside within the boundaries of the United
States: For the United States do not interfere with nations, tribes or
families, of Indians elsewhere resident."

Thus, the people of this land never accepted the Canada/United States
border, as was acknowledged by all parties in these treaties. For
Indigenous peoples the concept of boundaries, land ownership, and property
are foreign in concept and in application and are best reserved for
application in Europe and among Europeans and their descendants. They in
no way apply, nor have they ever, to Haudenosaunee or Kanien'keh?:ka
people or their allies.

In closing, all the treaties mentioned in this article always included the
stipulation that the treaties mentioned can never be extinguished and will
for ever remain valid, no matter which European power or descendents of
European colonists call themselves the rulers of this land at any time. As
long as the grass grows, the rivers flow, the moon rises, and the sun
shines --we are sovereign peoples of Turtle Island.



Through the eyes of slaves, democracy in Canada means you are anyone's

The centers for domestication teach us to say thank you for the daily
humiliation we are subject to. The good migrant always works and doesn't
question. The bad migrant is concerned about others, she/he speaks and
wonders why there is slavery. Yet, the domestication center tells them
that it is god's will.

At 5 o'clock in the morning, the metro becomes a warehouse transporting
diverse cultures. The slaves speak as if they were screaming. At nine
o'clock, the slaves become invisible again. The noise of their
"bothersome" voices are silenced.

It is the third world within the first world. We are invisible.

We have been denied our right to freedom twice over. This criminal
capitalist system condemns us to death in our home countries with its
wars, arms-trafficking, the pillage of natural resources, and forced
hunger and illness. And when we arrive here, we are once again enslaved by
the needs of this society and its lifestyle -- one which is based on the
denial of life to most of humanity.

Our sisters and mothers leave their lives behind to work in assembly
factories located in Cr?mazie or in Singapore, Mexico and China. Shipments
of slaves arrive and leave. There will always be more to occupy our place
once we are gone.

Many of us come from ancient cultures that flourished into great
civilizations -- discovering the zero before the Western world
appropriated our histories.

The domestication schools for slaves teach us that history began with the
invasion. Our cultures are barbarian and uncivilized, and our languages
are dialects. The only language is that of the oppressor. Our people are
called ethnic groups; a Mandarin is called Chinese, and a Basque is called
a Spaniard. Latinos are thieves, Arabs are terrorists, and Natives are
criminals. Cultural diversity means we dance Salsa, Meringue and Reggae.
We become mascots and exotic merchandise -- folklore for night shows.

There is no mention of our histories of struggle and resistance, of our
culture of dignity. Cultural diversity is packaged into police recruitment
campaigns so that we can repress our own brothers and sisters. This racist
criminal society condemns most of humanity to poverty. It feeds off of our
blood, and the blood of the earth.

If the eight most powerful industrialized countries and their "democracies
and civilization" are the example to follow, then we need 100 planets to
sustain life for everyone.

They call us underdeveloped. Yet, the great western civilization, in the
last 500 years of genocidal colonialism has lead us to the greatest crisis
in humanity today.

The eyes of slaves see the racism that lurks behind Montreal's
multicultural jargon. We see the cast system in which the invisible ones
are the migrants and native peoples.

The eyes of slaves can see the ignorance in the claims of equality heard
through the master's voice, and the only identity that is recognized is
that of the oppressor's. The master sees us as animals -- just as the
Europeans wondered if the natives had souls and thought that the coasts of
Africa were filled with human-like beasts. This racist and criminal
society feeds from poverty; it feeds from our perspiration and blood.
There is no real development for oppressed peoples as long as the interest
of capital governs our destinies. This consumerist society condemns us to
misery in our home countries.

Slaves have every right to be on these lands, and enjoy a life with

The federal and provincial governments are racist; they serve the
interests of the United States. Charest's cuts to French classes for
immigrants, the privatization of education, the Free Trade of Area of the
Americas -- all are part of the project of colonization.

We need to organize to make our voices heard, to unite with one cry, the
cry of the oppressed. Our fight is one, our enemy is the same. Our fight
is for life with dignity. Lift your faces in pride, for they have stolen
everything but our dignity.

The time to fight has come.
* Ed. Note: "No One is Illegal Montreal"
is an anarchist initiative

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