Immigrant detainees are being held indefinitely and without charge or trial in Lindsay’s maximum security jail. Unlike many of us, this Family Day, they will not be reuniting with their families. In fact, they are unable to see their families on most other days because Lindsay is inaccessible by public transport.
On February 16th, bring your family, young and old - sisters, fathers, sons, grandmothers and friends - and stand in solidarity with hundreds of families that are impacted by indefinite migrant detention, and the 100,000 more separated by detention over the past 8 years.
Where: The Central East Correctional Facility in Lindsay Ontario
When: 4:00pm (Bus leaves from Christie Pits Park at 2pm, and returns at 7pm, click here to register)
Everyone should be able to be with the people they love every day!
As we enter 2015, No One Is Illegal - Toronto would like to take a moment to reflect on our work over the last year to prepare for the work ahead. Knowing where we came from allows us to chart where we want to go. This report is a way for us to communicate and be accountable to the many people that make up our broader movement for migrant justice. It is you, the families fighting detentions and deportations; those that are trying to access services; and the communities that take to the streets despite great risk that made this work possible.
Please read the report and let us know how we can collectively escalate our efforts, and improve our tactics and strategies for change. If you find our work important, please consider joining us or becoming a monthly financial sustainer.
No One Is Illegal - Toronto 2014 organizing highlights:
No One Is Illegal - Toronto is delighted to welcome our comrade and ally Gary Freeman back to Canada.
We have supported Gary Freeman since he was arrested in 2004 outside a Yonge Street library in Toronto for shooting a Chicago police officer Terrence Knox in self-defence in 1969.
Listen to an interview we did with his family in 2008: http://www.radio4all.net/index.php/program/40215
Toronto Star coverage from today (with video): http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/01/21/former-fugitive-douglas-gary-...
Stop an Unjust Extradition to the United States!
January 21, 2015
To Executive Committee of Toronto City Council:
Along with many others in this City, we would like to express our outrage that some $3.8 million will be allocated to light up the Bloor Viaduct for the Pan Am Games.
Recently, three homeless men died on the streets of this City and another perished as he sought respite from the cold at the Peter Street Referral Centre. The waiting list for housing stands at close to 170,000 people while those struggling to obtain or retain a place to live are routinely denied access to the Housing Stabilization Fund by Toronto Social Services offices. Tens of thousands of people in this City turn to food banks in order to survive.
Recently, the community had to take action to ensure there were a few more spaces in the homeless shelter system and to win the belated opening of long promised drop in space for homeless women and trans people. Yet, when the circus comes to town and a privileged few stand to make a killing, money is no object and millions can be allocated for something so tacky as the lighting up a bridge.
We call on you to kill the lights on the Bloor Viaduct. Instead, we demand you use the $3.8 million to open up TCHC units that are now standing empty because lack of repair has made them uninhabitable while tens of thousands wait for a decent place to live. To proceed with this obscene misuse of public resources will be an insult to communities living in poverty that we shall have no alternative to respond to.
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
After the deaths of four homeless men in Toronto and, under enormous community pressure, the City of Toronto has taken some important steps to deal with the crisis of overcrowding in the homeless shelters. Today, the Community Development and Recreation Committee of City Council met and the following initiatives emerged from it.
1. Motel space will be opened up in the in both the west and east ends of the City. An immediate 90 spaces will operate by Monday but the locations are 'expandable' and the Administration committed to using these facilities to ensure that occupancy levels do not exceed 90% in all of the sectors of the system.
2. The two 24 hour drop in spaces for homeless women and trans people that should have been opened last month will be included in the City Budget and the first will open in March and the second the following month. We are appalled by this outrageous delay but the very fact that the drop ins will open in two to three months is a gain. A short while ago, there was no indication that they would even be included in the Budget for 2015
3. Two shelters will open by the summer for LGBTQ youth, a part of the homeless population that faces particular exclusion from the shelter system.
4. Shelter Services and the Board of Health are being asked to reassess the cold weather alert system to distinguish between the needs of the general population and the homeless. This means looking at opening warming centres before the temperature has dropped to -15c and keeping them open during much if not all of the winter.
5. Adhering to the 90% and the other measures will be included in Budget proposals but City staff are instructed to get to the 90% level immediately. The full Council is asked to endorse the results of the meeting but additional space will open in the meantime.
In the situation where overcrowded shelters are threatening lives, the gains made today are important but it's completely necessary to point out that the history of providing shelter for the homeless in Toronto is one where those in power have done as little as possible when they absolutely had to. Some concrete resources have been freed up but we will have to keep taking action, challenge any and all backsliding, push for further improvements and engage the Provincial and Federal Governments as well to move beyond a struggle for mere shelter beds and to take up the fight for housing.
Following the freezing deaths of two homeless men in Toronto, a third life has been lost this week. A 61 year old man came into the City's Peter Street Referral Centre last Thursday, according to shelter administration, to take a break from the streets under their 'respite program'. He died while he was inside the building with no information released on the exact cause of death.
This man's tragic death is reminder of the conditions homeless people face and how short life is for so many on the streets. During 2014, 29 people died in the City's homeless shelters - 26 men and three women. Their average age was only 57.6 years. We're fighting to reduce overcrowding in the shelters to the point where people can be sure of a bed and have an expectation of safety and dignity but we are only too aware that the bigger issue is to win decent housing for everyone as a matter of right!
Meet in front of City Hall (Bay and Queen),
Thursday January 15, 9.00 AM
Following two tragic freezing deaths on the streets this last week, community action, including an OCAP delegation to Mayor John Tory's office, forced the opening of vital warming centres for the homeless. They have remained open despite the calling off of the official cold weather alert. However, it is absolutely essential that enough additional space is opened and kept open to take the pressure off the overcrowded shelter system.
On January 15, the Community Development and Recreation Committee of City Council is meeting. We are going there to demand that enough space be opened immediately to bring occupancy levels down to the 90% maximum they are supposed to operate at. We will also call for two promised but delayed 24 hour drops for women and trans people to be opened right away.
A range of individuals and organizations, including OCAP, will be presenting the case for these measures and we are asking for as many people as possible to come out and show support.
No Homeless Deaths!
In the last 48 hours two homeless men died on our streets during the first cold days of this year's winter. The city of Toronto had failed to call an extreme weather alert which would have opened up 3 warming shelters. The emergency shelters remain full, turning people away daily.
We saw two crucial victories from today's emergency delegation to city
hall. Two warming centres, Margaret's Toronto East Drop-in (323 Dundas St.
East) and St.Felix Social Ministries Outreach (25 Augusta Av) are now
open. Thank you to everyone who came out and participated. And thank you
to everyone for continuing to remember and fight for those we've lost on
Warming Centres are vital, emergency, short-term wins, but the overall
system remains in crisis. Today's decision does not change the fact that
shelters are operating way over the 90% capacity rate promised by the city
two years ago. Instead, we find ourselves fighting to hold the city
accountable to their own emergency procedures.
Join us again on Thursday, January 8th at College Park (444 Yonge Street)
at 9 am to support the 5 women who were arrested on Nov.25th, and to
continue our demands for increased shelter capacity, and immediate action
on a 24-hour drop in space for women and trans people who are without
Let's build off the incredibly momentum from today. Let's keep up the
fight and fight to win!
No More Homeless Deaths! We Demand Action Now!
When: Today - 1:30pm
Where: City Hall
In the last 48 hours two homeless men have died on our streets during the
first cold days of this winter. The City failed to call an extreme
weather alert which would have opened up 3 warming shelters. The emergency
shelters remain full, turning people away daily. The City must act today!
On Monday morning a 59 year old man was found dead seeking shelter in an
empty truck in a shipping yard on Davenport Road, near Lansdowne Ave.
This morning, another homeless man died after being found in a t-shirt and
jeans in a bus shelter at Dundas and Yonge St. In both deaths the cold
weather was likely a factor. In both deaths, the lack of a proper
adequate emergency shelter system, and the absence of decent accessible
social housing were certainly factors.
It is unacceptable for homeless people to be left to freeze to death
outside. The City of Toronto has the power to act immediately to address
the homeless crisis and to prevent further deaths.
In 1996, after the freezing deaths of three homeless men, the City was
forced to open the armouries for emergency shelter. We demand that Mayor
John Tory: intervene and open up more emergency shelter so people are not
turned away from the existing overcrowded one, instruct the Medical
Officer of Health to call an extreme cold weather alert, and open up the
three warming centres.
The shelter system is in crisis. The City breaks it’s own 90% occupancy
limit daily. It has warned and conceded that the system is overcapacity.
In addition the City has failed so far to open the two 24hour women &
Trans drop-ins. Refusing to act is contributing to the deaths of people on
the streets of Toronto. The City must act now!
Join us today at 1:30pm at City Hall to demand immediate opening of
emergency shelter space now!
Please: Call/email/tweet in on mass to Mayor John Tory, your City
Councillors and the Board of Health
When: Thursday January 8th, 9am
Where: 444 Yonge Street (College Park Courthouse at College and Yonge)
*Supporters encouraged to wear ‘Stop Violence Against Women’ T-shirts
On November 25, 2014, the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, five women were violently arrested after they peacefully refused to leave the City of Toronto’s Shelter Administration offices at 21 Park Rd. The sit-in was part of a protest to demand that the City of Toronto open up more shelter beds and a 24-hour drop in for women and trans people – commitments that were approved by City Council in 2014 but have not yet been acted upon. Daily shelter stats show chronic overcrowding in the system, many people are left with nowhere to go and the City of Toronto has no 24 hour services for women and trans folks. The lack of immediate action by the City is putting lives at risk. For more info on the crisis in the shelter system, visit http://www.ocap.ca/node/1202
OCAP's response to John Tory;
Please Keep up the Calls & Emails to the Mayor's Office!
December 15, 2014
Mayor John Tory,
Toronto City Hall,
Delivered by Hand
Thank you for your December 12th letter. Unfortunately, we can’t consider it a sufficient response. You stress the importance of adequate shelter but offer only some indications of potential improvements at some point in 2015. What we sought to convey to you was the fact that you have taken over the Mayor’s job in a situation of acute crisis for homeless people in this City. We demand immediate action.
Due to a complete failure to implement binding policies with regard to shelter occupancy, the system is operating at intolerable and life threatening levels of overcrowding. This remains so even with the privately run “Out of the Cold” programs absorbing significant numbers. The failure to follow through on a drop-in space for women and trans people, puts lives at risk right now. At a time when gender-based violence and sexual assault has gripped National attention, you have it in your power to implement a service that would greatly reduce the likelihood of violence done to women and trans people in this city. It is simply not enough to say that the Deputy Mayor will be looking into this, or that the January meeting of Council will be considering options for next year. Lives are on the line. This is an emergency situation and should be treated as such.
As a new Mayor who has spoken of the need for a ‘unified City’, we are calling on you to give the question of adequate shelter and safe space full and immediate attention. With all due respect to Councillor McConnell, we repeat our call for you to personally meet with a community delegation and ensure that a fitting response to this crisis be rapidly developed. It really seems very little to ask that, while this City enjoys the Holiday period, its homeless residents should have their basic dignity and safety taken care of. At the very minimum, shelters ought to be operating at or below 90% occupancy.
Thank you for your attention to this matter
The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
It's Glory Anawa's 29th birthday today. Since February 2013, she has been imprisoned in immigration jails in Ontario without charge or trial. Canada cannot deport her but will not release her.
Her son, Alpha Ochigbo was born in the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre on August 25th, 2013. Alpha has not seen a single day of freedom.
Alpha is Glory's second child that she is raising inside an immigration jail. Her daughter Tracy was born in Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre in the United Kingdom.
Horrific as Glory's story is, it is not an exception. Racialized and poor migrants are locked up in jails around the globe for the desire to move. Without adequate supports, women, children and trans people face great harm.
This Monday, Dec. 15th, let John Tory and your local city councillors know that you demand action on improving housing and shelter conditions in Toronto. Call or email your local councillor or contact Tory himself!
We believe that all people are entitled to decent, safe, accessible and affordable shelter regardless of immigration status. We demand that the city quit stalling, and do something to advance the health and safety of people living in poverty in this city. Call in to express your support for the immediate opening of the 24-hour drop in space for women and trans people in Toronto. Voice your concern for the increasing numbers of people turned away from shelters each night. More lives are at risk every day. In avoiding these issues, the city is failing to prevent avoidable incidents of violence and death. We believe that this is utterly and completely unacceptable.
What you can do:
On Monday Dec. 15th, from 1pm until 5 pm, call or email your local councillor's office and express your concern for the lack of attention to the homelessness crisis in the city.
+Express your support for the immediate opening of the 24-hour drop in space
+Demand that the city fulfill it's own promise to keep shelter rates at 90%.
+Demand action now!
Below you will find a complete list of Toronto city councillors and their contact information.
Call or email your councillor. Call or email Tory. Then call or email another councillor!
The City must take action to deal with the desperate overcrowding in the shelter system. Please stand by to support action to make sure this letter is not ignored!
The Daily Shelter Census that was issued by the City, on December 2, reveals a deepening homeless crisis. The Co-ed shelters are reported at 99% capacity, those for women at 95% and the family shelters show 97%. The average across the system is put at 93% but this significantly understates the problem. If you remove the family motels from the calculation (they are, after all, inaccessible to most seeking shelter), the average rises to 95.4%. Moreover, these estimates include ‘flex beds’, placed in common areas, that only compound the overcrowding problem. What’s more, the bed count on which these figures are based, is taken at 11.00 PM and omits any consideration of all those who were turned away earlier in the evening. Nor can we forget that the whole system is in fact being augmented by overstretched 'Out of the Cold' initiatives that exist simply by virtue of the City’s failure to provide basic shelter to the homeless.
On Sunday, November 30th, 2014, Canadian immigration laws changed to shut out thousands of Caregivers from Permanent Residency. Yet Caregivers are refusing to let this injustice prevail.
Watch short video of Justice for Caregivers Rally in Toronto
Syed Hussan details the regressiveness of these laws in an article titled 'Why is Harper sending Caregivers back to 1973?'
Toronto Star: New rules for federal live-in caregivers program
Caregivers rally for status and justice (pics and video)
The following letter has been sent to the City official ultimately responsible for unleashing the disgraceful police operation on Tuesday against OCAP members and supporters demanding safe space and shelter for the homeless. We will not be intimidated, much less silenced, by such tactics and incoming Mayor, John Tory, will soon have these issues brought to his attention.
Phillip Abrahams, General Manager,
Shelter Support and Housing Administration, City of Toronto
Following the events that took place on Tuesday, we wish to convey our outrage at the deplorable way our members and supporters were treated and to inform you that we hold you responsible for this.
Picture from Today's Action:
While the shelters are overcrowded and there is still no after-hours
drop-in for women and trans people in Toronto, the City chose to violently
arrest 5 women rather than open safe space now. The City has acknowledged
that there is a serious issue with the lack of shelter space and need for
the drop-in yet it does nothing. It is cold and will only get colder. More
people will get sick or even die on the streets because of their inaction.
Women are being sexually assaulted on an ongoing basis with no safe space
to go yet bureaucratic stalling has delayed the drop-in that Council
Those arrested have all been released from police custody and are facing
charges of mischief and trespass. They will be in court for first
appearance shortly. More details to follow about supporting those arrested.
The fight for shelter and safe space continues.
Nearly 100 migrants and allies sang, cheered, chanted and made music to the sounds of protest samba squad Rhythms of Resistance outside the Toronto Immigration Jail (Toronto Immigration Holding Centre) on Sunday, November 23, 2014.
Across the wooden fence and barbed wires, migrants jailed indefinitely without trial or charge waved at us through their cell windows, flicking light switches, jumping and pumping fists. For a moment, despite the G4S private security guards, and the concrete walls - those of us on the outside and those locked up inside shared a joint energy and hope.
** Watch and share this exciting 2 minute video to see what we felt: http://youtu.be/V239r8CaoBE
** Flip through these beautiful pictures of the action: http://on.fb.me/1FpdE1u
** Watch news coverage on CBC, CTV, Radio Canada and Global TV: http://bit.ly/1xSlWyz
Issues of violence against women have been getting a lot more attention in the news than usual in the past few weeks. In these conversations you sometimes hear reference to survivors as ‘educated’ or as ‘public figures’. The media emphasis on the class standing of survivors implies that certain lives and stories of violence are more ‘believable’ (just barely) – while others can be more easily dismissed.
November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. For the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty it marks one year since the demand for a 24 hour women and trans drop-in was launched in Toronto. This followed the assault of a homeless woman, twice in one night, while sleeping on some steps at the corner of Dundas and Sherbourne. That incident, and the subsequent reaction by many (including police) to dismiss the woman, assuming she was ‘trading sex for drugs’ - is sadly not shocking and all too common for women on the streets.
You may already have heard about the November 25 action that OCAP is organizing to demand that the City of Toronto deal with the dangerous crisis of overcrowding within its homeless shelter system. As part of this action, we'll be sending the included open letter to Mayor elect John Tory; We invite individuals and organizations that wish to to sign onto the letter. Please let us know at email@example.com and we'll include you as a signer.
Our fantastic allies Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) in the UK are helping to support our November 25 action against the abandonment of Toronto's homeless. After at least 100 people have signed onto this a list of tweets directed at Mayor elect John Tory, which will be sent out at noon on the day of our action so that calls for him to act on shelter overcrowding and drop in space for homeless women will come in from across Canada and internationally.
Please also sign onto this and help make sure that the action on the streets gets a nice echo on social media!
Dear Mr. Tory:
On December 2, you will become the Mayor of Toronto. By then, we shall be facing the onset of a winter that is predicted to be especially severe and you will be the Chief Magistrate of a city that does not have in place a basic infrastructure to provide even bare shelter for those who are facing homelessness.
Doubtless you will have a fairly substantial 'to do list' in front of you as you take on your new responsibilities but we'd like to suggest that responding to the homeless crisis should be the most urgent priority of all. We say this not simply because lives are at stake, although this is certainly the case with the Homeless Memorial marking three more tragic deaths this month. We also drive home this point because, as far as we are concerned, a City that is ready to abandon human beings to destitution as winter sets in can't be trusted to meet any social needs with any diligence.