KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – As you read this, there are people indefinitely detained at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility at Burnside.
These people are locked up, not because they committed a crime, but because they are people without status, destined to be deported or awaiting a decision about their cases.
Canada-wide there are many more who share that fate, and today, October 3rd, is designated a national day of action to demand an end to immigration detention and deportations, as well as status and services for all.
In that spirit this afternoon some 10 people went to Liberal MP Andy Fillmore’s campaign office on Quinpool Road in Halifax to deliver a box of letters in support of these demands.
The event was organized by a reenergized No One Is Illegal – Halifax/K’jipuktuk.
“I think a lot of people would be surprised to know that in Canada we have indefinite immigrant detention. We are talking about people who have no charges against them. One person was held for close to 10 years, another for five and a half. And there’s a case more locally at Burnside, where someone was held for seven or eight months,” Stacey Gomez told the Nova Scotia Advocate.
“There’s been a lot of uproar about what’s happening in the US and the move towards indefinite immigrant detention, but that’s something that we see here as well, including children,” Gomez said.
“We’re standing here at the campaign office of Andy Fillmore, and a sign says everyone is welcome. But we know that in Canada not everybody is welcome,” said poet and teacher El Jones.
Some people came here on a container ship, seeking some kind of standard of living, and they were promptly detained at Burnside for four months, vulnerable to bullying because they didn’t speak English, and were refused halal food, said Jones. Another man, a Hindu, was denied the vegan diet his religion calls for. All he was given was peanut butter and slices of bread.
“Remember, none of this happened because anybody committed a crime, this is merely for being where you’re not supposed to be, and therefore considered illegal.”
“This in a country that had enslavement, in a country that forcibly moved Indigenous people onto reserves, and now has the nerve to tell people who come here for safety that their body is illegal, and that they are not allowed to be here,” Jones said.
“We reject the idea that some Canadians are more Canadian than others, that being Canadian means that you have to be here some amount of time, and that you have to earn Canadian citizenship. We call for status for all, from the moment you come to this country, you should have the full rights of every person in Canada.”
“Remember that this is Indigenous land. And those rights were extended to settlers by Indigenous people as we see in the peace and friendship treaties. That is what should govern this territory. We live on these lands in this spirit of extending help and support to those who come here, as the Mi’kmaq did. It is status that is illegal, it is not people that are illegal,” Jones said.
MP Andy Fillmore was not in the office, and could not be made available on the phone, a volunteer at Fillmore’s office told the group.
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