Local activists will be holding a march at Victoria Park, calling on the federal government to put an end to family separation and immigration detention in America and Canada.
March on London is sparked by events involving migrant children being separated from their parents as they illegally cross the U.S. border.
Over a dozen cities across Canada are participating in the rally, called #FamiliesBelongTogether, and have issued joint demands to the federal government.
Mandy Penny, organizer of March on London, says participants want the federal government to scrap the Safe Third Country Agreement and the Designated Country of Origin list.
“What happens is that if a migrant crosses a U.S. border at a port of entry, seeking asylum, they can not then come to Canada and request to seek asylum in our country because the United States is currently considered a safe country for that to happen,” Penny said, explaining why they want the agreement scrapped.
“We would like to see the end of those agreements so that refugees who are feeling unsafe in the United States might then have some recourse in terms of applying for asylum,” Penny added.
Framing this, she said, is the fact that Canada is still seeing the lingering trauma and history of what has happened with Indigenous peoples.
The rallies happening in Canada are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to condemn U.S. immigrant deportation and detention policies. They want all undocumented and migrant people in Canada to be granted permanent resident status, including everyone that has crossed over from the United States.
Penny expressed concerns about historic and current Canadian practices which have separated Indigenous families, including the residential school system. She draws attention to the rates of incarceration for Indigenous people and the number of Indigenous children placed in foster homes by state organizations.
With respect to the government policies behind the separation of families at the U.S. border, she told 980 CFPL that both Canada and the United States are affected.
“Canada is one of the only countries in the west that still has a system of indefinite detention for refugees who come into the country, [and] migrants are jailed for decades without charges or trial,” Penny said.
“What [Donald] Trump’s executive order seeks to do, as much as it was touted as being a solution from the separation of families, is to create that same system of indefinite detention that is already the norm here in Canada.”
She adds that 16 people have died in detention since 2000, and six people since Trudeau has been in office.
“We are spending upwards of $138 million to build more immigration prisons and to jail families and children, so what we are seeing in the U.S. is just an extension of what we are seeing here in Canada,” Penny said.
Londoners are encouraged to join the march Saturday at 12 p.m.
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