Every year on 18th of December, the world marks International Migrants Day, a day set aside to recognize the important contributions of migrants worldwide while highlighting the challenges and problems migrants face in their host countries. Today, we mark the 22nd year of the United Nations Proclamation of International Migrants Day.
This year, the International Migrants Day is proclaimed in three cities in BC. Burnaby City Mayor Mike Hurley, Richmond City Mayor Malcolm Brodie, and New Westminster Mayor Patrick Johnstone issued the Proclamations in their cities after discussing the request in their respective City Council meetings. While the City of Langley does not make Proclamations as a matter of Policy, it will nevertheless share the message on their Dec 12 Council Agenda under Correspondence. The proclamation requests came from Migrante BC, a member of Migrante Canada.
For the first time this year, Barrie City Mayor Alex Nuttall proclaimed Dec 18 as “International Migrants Day” in Barrie, Southern Ontario. The request came from the Pilipinong Migrante sa Barrie, a member of Migrante Canada.
It was in 2016 when the City of Vancouver issued the IMD Proclamation, making it the first city in Canada to do so. Then Mayor Gregor Robertson signed the City Proclamation on the request of Migrante BC.
The City Proclamation for International Migrants Day is a recognition not only of the presence of migrant workers and their families who live and work in our cities, but also of the contribution of their essential labour that keeps our cities going, more so during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. It also acknowledges the struggles, problems, and sacrifices of migrant workers and a call to stop the exploitation and trafficking of migrants.
The City Proclamation helps to “draw attention to the situation of migrant workers, which includes low-skilled temporary foreign workers, caregivers, and the seasonal agricultural workers, especially to their precarious and vulnerable working and living conditions, their access to basic services and social entitlements.” For Migrante Canada, it is also drawing attention to the conditions that drive workers from countries in the Global South such as Mexico, the Philippines, Guatemala to migrate and labour in the cities in the Global North.
The City Proclamation is not only a declaration but also a commitment made by these Cities to migrants and immigrants. It is a recognition of the ethnically diverse populations, the multicultural fabric of their cities, and their role “providing a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment to people of all nationalities and cultural backgrounds”, including “those with temporary status, uncertain status, or no immigration status.”
In December 1990, the UN General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. While we mark IMD in our cities, we are reminded that while 55 countries ratified the Convention and 14 countries signed the Convention, Canada has neither signed nor ratified this UN Convention. The Canadian Council for Refugees writes that “It’s time for Canada to live up to the rhetoric and make a real commitment to migrant workers’ rights by signing on to the UN Convention.” It adds that the Convention “sets a moral standard and serves as a guide for the promotion of migrant rights.”
Migrante Canada and its chapters and member organizations stand in solidarity with migrant workers all across Canada and around the world to celebrate International Migrants Day, a day of celebration and reaffirmation of our commitment to our struggles as migrant workers.
December 18, 2022
International Migrants Day