People from across Quebec come together to Send Message of Welcome to Refugees at Roxham Road in face of the Racist Far-Right
Media contact: 438-933-7654 or solidaritesansfrontieres@
Montreal, 16 May 2018 — On Saturday, May 19th, Montreal-based anti-racist and migrant justice organizations will be travelling to the Canada-US border at Roxham Road to demand open borders, to welcome refugees, but also to oppose the racist far-right. They will be joining ally organizations from Montérégie, including Bridges Not Borders, in a large, festive, and family-friendly demonstration. The colourful rally will welcome people crossing in opposition to the hatred of anti-immigrant racists – including members of the xenophobic group Storm Alliance – who are calling for a rally at Roxham Road to intimidate refugees.
“I am a Palestinian from Gaza strip. I was in the United States and heard Trump talking about deporting immigrants. I heard Trudeau welcome refugees to Canada. So I took a bus to the border and applied as a refugee at the border post. But they said I wasn’t able to apply as a refugee and sent me back to the United States. So then I walked across the border and tried to apply but they said I couldn’t apply because I went to the border post first. They put me in detention for four months and tried to deport me. But Israel wouldn’t cooperate with Canada, so they couldn’t deport me. Finally they released me. Now I’m in limbo, I have nothing, no papers, no status, no rights.” explained Hisham Shaban, who left the Gaza Strip in 2010 to find asylum. This began a 7000 km, 8-year trip which took him through Cyprus, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States. Shaban spoke this morning at a press conference to announce the rally.
“The USA is clearly not a safe country for many refugees, as the Trump administration continues to escalate its anti-immigrant rhetoric. Many people are crossing in response to Trump’s cancellation of protection policies. We demand that Canaday cancel the Safe Third Country Agreement so that refugees in the USA are able to safely file asylum claims at any border crossing.” said Aaron Lakoff, of Solidarity Across Borders.
“Black refugees have had to cross the US-Canadian border for hundreds of years to flee racist violence, and have too often been received by hostility or indifference. Given that the Trudeau government has recently officially recognized the UN International Decade for People of African Descent, it’s hypocritical to maintain the Safe Third Country agreement and to discourage other Black refugees from trying to come to Canada,” asserted Montreal writer and activist Robyn Maynard, explaining that a disproportionately large number of refugees seeking shelter in Canada are black.
“We reject the racist notion being put forward by the organizers of Saturday’s anti-refugee demonstration, echoed by demagogic politicians, that the refugees crossing at Roxham Road put a strain on social services. The lack of affordable housing in Quebec, and the cuts to our healthcare system, have nothing to do with immigrants and refugees, but political choices,” says Olivier Prud’homme, from the housing rights organization POPIR. “Refugees aren’t the cause of austerity – they are victims of it just like all other poor and working people in Quebec, regardless of where they’re from.”
“It is important to remember that the Canadian state and Canadian corporations are actually contributing to creating the conditions that push people to leave their homes and seek a better life for themselves and their children in the first place. It is no secret that Canadian mining industries are directly responsible for violence, human rights abuses and environmental destruction throughout Latin America, all while extracting wealth to the benefit of Canada” said Amelia Orellana, Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine.
“The groups and individuals organizing the anti-immigrant rally are drawing on recent statements by mainstream politicians and political parties in an attempt to appear legitimate, but they clearly have a thinly-veiled hateful message,” says Aaron Lakoff. “There is no reason for them to protest at Roxham road other than to try to spread fear among refugees who are crossing. We reject the politics of fear and racism, and we will be there with our communities to show that solidarity is stronger than the anti-immigrant hatred of Storm Alliance.”
Local neo-Nazis Shawn Beauvais-Macdonald and Vincent Bélanger Mercure – active in white supremacist groups in Montreal and both of whom traveled to the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last summer – openly participated in Storm Alliance’s last demonstration at the Lacolle border crossing on September 30th.
Contact: 438-933-7654 or solidaritesansfrontieres@