Statement for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
April 3, 2013
Toronto, ON—As we commemorate the recent International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada/Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance (UKPC/FCYA) calls on all youth to reaffirm their role in combatting systemic racism, especially in today’s era of neoliberal globalization. This day was not only a day to revisit and to learn about the various forms and experiences of racism from the past, but it was also a day that served to remind all racialized communities that the fight against racism is far from over. As such, we, progressive Filipino Canadian youth, declare our unrelenting commitment to continue exposing and opposing present-day systemic racism and all its manifestations.
Here in Canada, systemic racism continues to thrive in the guise of neoliberal policies that push and lock communities of colour into the very margins of society. As Canada takes pride of its “cultural diversity,” as it is the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy, it also ranks as one of the top countries that uses and relies on the blood and sweat of immigrant and migrant labour to maintain its global competitiveness and so-called economic prosperity. Under the pretense of “jobs, growth, sustainability, and long-term prosperity,” the Conservative government under Prime Minister Harper, has launched an all-out attack on racialized and Aboriginal communities. Thus, as we bear witness to the passing of numerous Omnibus Bills—such as Bill C-45, Bill C-38, Bill C-31and Bill C-10—austerity budgets, and the manipulation of labour standards to suppress wages, we also bear witness to the escalating violation and erosion of our fundamental human rights. Through the implementation of these inherently racist and anti-worker neoliberal policies, the labour market in this country has become a haven for corporations and employers to exploit and amass cheap, disposable labour.
With the aim of managing and maintaining racial hierarchy as a tool to divide workers against each other, we bear witness to the outright destruction, exploitation, and marginalization of racialized communities and its people. The outsourcing of jobs to cheaper labour from abroad deliberately intensifies local competition between workers in order to carry out a strategic move, under neoliberalism, to pit workers, youth, women workers, migrant workers, immigrants, refugees and Aboriginal Canadians against each other. These false divisions have incited various forms of racial discrimination, prejudice and violence. As transnationals, Filipinos remain as one of Canada’s top sources of immigrant and migrant labour. Coming through the “temporary and permanent economic streams,” such as the Live-In Caregiver Program, the Low-Skill Pilot Program, the Provincial Nominee Program, and the Federal-Skilled Worker Program, Filipinos are relegated to accept low-paying, and dead-end jobs, despite being one of the most highly-skilled and highly-educated immigrant groups. As a result, Filipinos are locked into Canada’s labour programs under extremely exploitative conditions.
Similarly, while Canada’s unemployment rate holds steady at 7%, youth unemployment rate has remained at 14% nationally. Graduating from universities and colleges across the country, youth are struggling to find stable, full-time jobs leaving them increasingly pushed into the end of the economic margins. Yet despite the hardships faced by youth during this period, following the economic crisis of 2008-9, the current government chose to increase the age of retirement, and have facilitated the erosion of job security through the expansion of temporary and dead-end work. As youth of colour who are systemically marginalized in Canadian society through the state’s racist policies, and left behind in the Conservative government’s vision of prosperity, it is all the more clear that we must continue exposing these neoliberal tactics.
In addition, the long history of systemic racism and violence perpetuated against Aboriginal people is intensified by the current government’s push to facilitate the activities and interests of fossil fuel corporations while disregarding indigenous land rights and ownership. As we strive to meet Canada’s energy needs, Canadians have been bombarded, through corporate media, of the need to support the building of pipelines and to expand oil extraction from Canada’s tar sands under the “Green Conservative” strategy. However, through these energy projects, which include the construction of the Northern Gateway Project and the larger Keystone XL Pipeline, Canada moves further away from addressing any strategies to mitigate climate change. The frequent oil spills and suspect pipeline infrastructure being built has not only resulted in massive environmental degradation, but will moreover threaten and ultimately destroy the well-being and livelihood of Aboriginal communities and its people.
We recognize that the fuelling of anti-immigrant sentiments and the continuing attacks on Aboriginal communities are welcomed efforts to quell the growing movement and solidarity amongst racialized people by those who choose profit over our communities’ entitlement to genuinely settle and integrate in this country. Therefore, we, the Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance of Ontario, stand in solidarity with the struggle of transnational workers, the plight of working Canadians, and Aboriginal people in the fight for their rights and land ownership. As progressive Filipino Canadians, we will continue to hold firm in combatting systemic racism and all its manifestations by militantly and steadfastly opposing Canada’s neoliberal agenda.
Stop the cuts! End the contractualization of labour!
Stop the expansion of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program!
Permanence through genuine immigration programs now!
Respect the First Nations’ treaty rights! Idle no more!
End systemic racism! Expose and oppose neoliberal globalization!
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