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Home Balitang Migrante Migrante Scarborough hosts community forum on IS

Migrante Scarborough hosts community forum on IS

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Migrante Scarborough hosts community forum on IS
One of the co-organizers of the event, the Philippine Advancement through Arts and Culture (PATAC), ran a federal project to fight hate and racism in the community by bringing attention to the problems international students face in Canada. (Photo by Jesson Reyes)

by Ranier Villegas

On March 25, over 40 migrants, international students, and advocates gathered at the Filipino Centre in Toronto to discuss the realities and struggles of international students enrolled in the international student program.

The event took place on the same day as the international day dedicated to the elimination of racial discrimination. The Philippine Advancement through Arts and Culture (PATAC), which is one of the co-organizers of the event, ran a federal project to promote anti-hate and anti-racism in the community by highlighting the challenges faced by international students in Canada.

Two international students shared their personal experiences and recounted the difficulties they encountered in obtaining their post-graduate work permits.

Angela, an exceptionally bright Filipina student, came to Canada four years ago as part of the country’s international student program. She went into detail about the struggles she’s experiencing at work in meeting the program’s minimum work requirements. While working on the front lines during the pandemic, she felt that international students were not given enough support by the Canadian government.

Centennial College’s international student Javier Jardeleza drew parallels between the international student program and the Temporary foreign worker program (TFW).

“The event was critical for IS because it provided a platform for international students to engage in sustained collective action to influence federal policies that affect them,” Jardeleza said.

International student Javier Jardeleza of Centennial College drew parallels between the international student program and the Temporary foreign worker program (TFW). (Photo by Jesson Reyes)

In addition to this, he cited successful campaigns in which international students banded together to advocate for themselves on  the issue of lifting the 20-hour work limit- the removal of a cap on the number of hours that they could work in a week.

Neethan Shan, a current trustee on the Toronto District School Board and a former member of the City Council, was present at the event. During his remarks, he discussed the challenges faced by international students and advocated for the possibility of advocacy at the municipal level. Shan, whose family is originally from South Asia, is aware that a good number of the students enrolled in the International Student program are from South Asian countries like India and the Philippines.

Former NDP candidate in the Scarborough Guildwood riding and current registered social worker Veronica Javier applauded the students who spoke out about their own experiences and offered solutions for how the community can help them.

The process of obtaining permanent residency was broken down in detail by Atty. Earl Francis Dacara, an authorized immigration consultant, for any students who were interested.

In addition, Danilo De Leon, the chair of Migrante Canada, spoke about the ongoing campaign for regularisation status for all migrants, which includes a call to end their deportation.

Chairperson of Migrante Danilo de Leon gave a speech about the difficulties faced by temporary foreign workers and
campaigned for the regularization and status of all migrants, including international students, who are also affected
by a failed immigration policies. (Photo credits: Migrante Scarborough)

The policies of the Canadian government regarding immigration, which the organisers believe are unnecessary and have resulted in a great deal of difficulty and confusion for a large number of students, have come under fire from the organisers of the event. In light of the fact that the International Student programme contributes approximately $21 billion annually to the economy of Canada, as was pointed out by the event’s organisers, the Canadian government ought to place a priority on protecting the rights and well-being of international students.

At the Filipino Centre in Toronto, over forty migrants, international students,
and advocates got together to talk about the realities and struggles of international
students who are enrolled in the international student program. (Photo credits: Jesson Reyes)

The government of the Philippines, from which a significant number of students originate, has also been unable to address these concerns. This is in addition to the fact that it has failed to address the concerns of its own citizens who are studying and working outside the country.

In its first year of existence, the Department of Migrant Workers (Philippines) has “failed to address the genuine concerns of our kababayans here and abroad, including our Filipino international students,” according to Migrante organizer Jay Carpio.

Carpio, a Migrante Scarborough organizer, provided a closing analysis of the event’s central topic.

“The majority of us have heard these stories before. Canada needs our labor, but refuses to provide the necessary social services to those most in need,” Carpio said.

Scarborough Migrante organizer Jay Carpio claims the Canadian government is ignoring the plight of
migrants and international students despite their contributions to the economy. (Photo by LQueano)

Carpio encouraged everyone present to remember that collective organising is what will give them power and allow them to address their immediate problems. In his speech, he urged the audience to look into the problems faced by international students and to connect them to the experiences of migrant workers.

Carpio then urged the audience to learn more about the problems faced by international students and how they relate to the plight of migrant workers who were coerced into leaving their home country in search of employment.

The event was co-hosted by PATAC, Migrante Scarborough, and Anakbayan Scarborough as part of the buildup to Migrante Scarborough’s official chapter launch in August.