Montrealers Honour the Dead by Fighting for the Living

As part of the Migrant Rights Network's November 1 pan-Canadian day of action "to raise the call for full and permanent immigration status for all," Solidarity Across Borders organized a rally in Montreal. The rally was held outside the Radio-Canada building "to highlight and challenge our invisibility in the mainstream media." Approximately 70 people, mainly youth, turned out for the event.

November 2 is the Day of the Dead, "a Mexican festival to commemorate and honour the dead." This action was held in honour of friends, family, compatriots and fighting comrades who have died, as well as to strengthen everyone's resolve in the fight for the recognition of the rights, including the right to be, of all human beings in society. It included a symbolic "die-in," described as "an art action to show our dead."

The first speaker stressed that not only are undocumented migrants involved in a life and death struggle for the recognition of their rights, they are also on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. Government indifference to the untenable working and living conditions of these workers has resulted in some of them losing their lives. "It is our intention to continue the struggle until this issue of migrants has been resolved," one speaker asserted. "We will remain on the ground and continue to fight for them, as a matter of human dignity."

A message from Robyn Maynard of Black Lives Matter was read. Amongst other things, Maynard wrote that the injustices migrants face today are part of Canada's long legacy of racial injustice and that the country's entire history is one of racial discrimination. She said that the pandemic has exposed the scandalous exploitation of migrant labour in Canada. "Front line health care workers, factory workers, janitors, drivers, grocery store clerks -- without those jobs, this nation does not function. And yet those who do this work are subjected to the worst working conditions [...]."

"None of us are free while some of us are working, such as black or racialized women, on the front line of the pandemic while afraid for our own possible deportation."

"None of us are free when our brothers and sisters are working in a factory facing workplace abuses regularly for little pay [...]."

"None of us are free while black and racialized people across the American continent, the Caribbean, Central and South America are forced to leave their homes due to the unequal global economic system [...] and while Canadian mines misappropriate the global south."

Maynard then encouraged everyone to continue the struggle "of our time, working to build a better, safer world for all of us. All migrants are essential! All migrants require protection, deserve security [...] and justice."

Participants then heard the news that Mamadou Konaté, a failed refugee claimant originally from the Ivory Coast who had been detained by the Canada Border Services Agency on September 16, had been released. His case had been widely publicized.[1] Mamadou, who participated in the action, thanked everyone for their efforts in securing his release, encouraging them to continue the struggle for status for all.

Protesters then observed a minute of silence to "remember the thousands of migrants who have lost their lives crossing the border into the United States and into Canada." These include Mavis Otuteye, a Ghanaian grandmother living in the U.S. who had overstayed her 2006 visitor visa and attempted to cross over into Canada in 2017. Her body was found about half a kilometre south of the Manitoba border town of Emerson on May 26, 2017.

Also named during the commemoration was Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy whose image made global headlines after his body washed up on a beach in Turkey on September 2, 2015. Canada, just like other NATO powers, bears responsibility for driving millions of people  out of their homelands and creating hundreds of thousands of refugees through its participation in war, regime change, nation-wrecking, sanctions and anarchy unleashed by the U.S. imperialists and NATO powers against Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Venezuela. Those forced to leave their countries, among them refugees facing persecution and death, are then labelled "migrants," suggesting that millions willingly leave their homelands for economic reasons. This obscures the causes of their flight, that they have been subjected to the most brutal, violent, inhumane treatment due to allegedly civilized Western intervention by the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Statistics were given on the thousands of deaths of migrants fleeing their home countries by way of the Mediterranean Sea year after year.

Countries who close their borders to asylum seekers were condemned, with Western countries in particular being called upon to abide by the 1951 Geneva Convention with regard to the rights of refugees.

The rally ended with a symbolic "die-in," with participants lying still on the ground in commemoration of those who have perished.


1. "Oppose Canada's Role in Exploiting and Abusing Migrant Workers!" TML Weekly, October 10, 2020.

(Photos: Solidarité sans frontières.)

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 44 - November 14, 2020

Article Link:
Montrealers Honour the Dead by Fighting for the Living - Diane Johnston


Website:   Email: