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Regina chapter & Colonialism No More call on Goodale to meet with immigration detainees

Photo by Elizabeth Todd.

The Council of Canadians Regina chapter joined with the Colonialism No More – Solidarity Camp today to call on federal Public Safety minister (and Regina-Wascana Member of Parliament) Ralph Goodale to meet with the immigration detainees who have been on a hunger strike since July 11.

The Colonialism No More outreach for today’s event stated, “Over 50 migrants jailed indefinitely without charges or trial are on hunger strike. They want to meet with Minister Ralph Goodale to demand an end to their maximum security imprisonment and indefinite immigration detention. Three people have died in immigration detention in Canada in just the last five months. Colonialism No More – Regina (Treaty 4 territory) invites you to a noon-hour picket outside Ralph’s constituency office on Thursday, July 14, at 12:30pm – 310 University Park Drive.”

Earlier this week, the Canadian Press reported, “The End Immigration Detention Network says immigration detainees previously went on a hunger strike that began on April 21, and met with officials from Canada Border Services Agency. But the group says CBSA has not followed through on promises it made and the detainees have begun the new hunger strike — this time calling for a meeting with elected officials.” Sharmeen Khan of End Immigration Detention Network says, “Goodale must meet with the detainees, and commit to upholding international norms and basic human rights by ending immigration detention.”

At any given time, between 520 and 700 people are in immigration detention (imprisonment without charges or trial) in Canada. Those who can’t be deported – sometimes because their home country is at war or won’t accept them – are often locked up in maximum security prisons for months or even years. The international standard is to limit immigration detention to 90 days, but in Canada there is no such limit. That means that in this country, unlike in the United States or European Union or as recommended by the United Nations, detainees awaiting deportation are jailed indefinitely.

Even The Globe and Mail editorial board stated this week, “Human rights advocates are right to raise concerns about the risk of arbitrariness in the system. It is also clear that many, if not most of the long-term detainees, some of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or profound mental health issues, don’t belong in a criminal jail.”

A spokesman for Goodale has only said the minister hopes to put forward proposals later this year. That’s not good enough.

The Council of Canadians has also expressed its solidarity with the Colonialism No More – Solidarity Camp which is in its 88th day of being in place in front of the Indigenous and North Affairs (INAC) office in Regina.

Sue Deranger, a spokesperson for the camp, says, “We’re tired of the suicides. We’re tired of the poverty, the water that’s not drinkable.”

The Regina Leader-Post has reported, “While the group’s demands have been revised over time, they have remained relatively stable in terms of wanting INAC to address issues like revoking the Indian Act, upholding and honouring the treaties, and issues plaguing reserves like poverty, housing and education concerns, inadequate drinking water and lack of job opportunities.” Global News has noted, “Colonialism No More lists their long-term demands as follows: that the true spirit and intent of the Treaties be upheld; that the Treaty rights of urban, off-reserve Indigenous peoples be respected and upheld; and that the Indian Act be revoked.”

At today’s rally in support of immigration detainees, Colonialism No More stated, “Colonial borders have divided peoples, have separated peoples, and our camp stands with the migrants on hunger strike and all detained people whose lives are in limbo in a colonial system.”

Goodale has also failed to meet even once with Colonialism No More over the past three months.

Please CALL (613-947-1153), TWEET (@RalphGoodale) or e-mail (ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca) to ask Goodale to meet with the detainees. And if you are in the Regina area, please support the Colonialism No More – Solidarity Camp which is located at 1827 Albert Street near 11th Avenue.