5 posts tagged with “migrant workers”

  • Watch: Migrant Dreams shows migrant labour nightmare

    Editor’s note: I was invited to screen Migrant Dreams by GAT PR. I was not paid for this post, nor did GAT PR have input into this post.

    It’s not often that I’m embarrassed to be Canadian. In fact, this might be the first time I’m saying it out loud and in such a public way.

    But it’s how I felt after watching the documentary Migrant Dreams, a film by Min Sook Lee, about the plight of migrant workers toiling in our greenhouses — packing cucumbers, harvesting tomatoes — as part of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program. (The documentary premieres Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 9 p.m. on TVO). They come for the opportunity to do the low-skilled, low-paying work that Canadians apparently don’t want to do.

    I say apparently because in 2009, I reported on the systematic firing of local workers so that a nearby greenhouse could start importing help using the program.

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    Category On the Farm


  • Peach Tree
  • Cricket and community building

    Playing soccer with farm workers. Photo from Southridge Community Church

    There is no worse feeling in sports than when your wicket drops.

    There are no second chances in cricket. When you are deemed ‘out’, you are permanently out of the game. To add insult to injury, you have the long walk off the pitch to contemplate your failure while everyone around you celebrates your misfortune.

    Why then would someone willingly confront such agony on a weekly basis? Because, in spite of its capacity to provide moments of lamentation, the sport also brings people together and encourages community beyond what could be gained in mere outreach. Continue reading

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    Category On the Farm


  • Peach Tree
  • Thanking a farmer’s worker

    Photo by Jane Andres

    A pile of photographs sits on Jane Andres’s dining room table. In them, faces beam out at the viewer: middle school-aged students wear caps and gowns to mark the successful end of a school year; three women, dressed up, gather on an armchair, a baby between them; and a man in worn work clothes, his face weathered by time, stands in a snowy Niagara orchard.

    They’re perfect fodder for a family photo album, if people were still inclined to keep one. Instead, they’ll be part of an exhibit Andres is organizing to educate Niagara residents about the 2,600 men and women who come from the Caribbean and Mexico every spring to work in Niagara’s orchards, vineyards, and greenhouses for up to eight months a year.

    The photos were taken by some of those workers to show their lives here and in their homelands; the families who make do during their long annual absences and the households sustained by their income earned abroad.

    Andres, who operates a bed-and-breakfast in Niagara-on-the-Lake, displays the images to show Niagarans that those working on our farms as part of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) are valued members of their communities back home. She does it with the hope that people viewing the photos will make those workers feel equally appreciated here. “Our mission, it’s a simple one,” Andres says. “It’s to thank and welcome them, and you’re raising the profile of people who are essentially invisible.” Continue reading

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    Category On the Farm


  • Peach Tree
  • Welcome back: Niagara’s seasonal farm workers return for the season

    I moved to Simcoe as a cub reporter at what may have been the worst time of year.

    It was January and an ornery one at that. I remember so well the aserbic wind and cold, the banks of snow and their regular growth spurts that made me think it would be impossible for them to ever fully melt. Mostly, I remember how closed up everything was, dormant, even. Everyone seemed to be in hibernation.

    Snow snuffed the frozen tobacco fields like the thickest down duvet, stifling all signs of fertility and life that Norfolk’s sandy soil was famous for generating year after year.

    And then there was the oppressive darkness, mostly my own. The weather, the long nights, the seeming lack of life everywhere made me wonder if this was what the weight of a million pounds felt like. It was oppressive. Time moved like sludge through a pipe and it was depressing.

    I truly wondered if I’d make it as a newly minted reporter and equally green Norfolk County resident.

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    Category Food Security, On the Farm