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Yukon group advocates for permanent residency status for migrants

Yukon Status of Women Council say migrants face exploitation, lack of protection and abuse because of their status
Protesters holding placards to demand equal status for migrants across Canada. (Courtesy/Migrant Rights Network)

The Yukon Status of Women Council (YSWC) is collecting signatures from Yukoners with an aim of advocating for permanent residency status for immigrants in the territory and across the country.

From Sept. 15 to 22 between 11 a.m and 3 p.m, residents can drop-off or drop-in at the organization’s office in Whitehorse to write letters to their local politicians and MPs, demanding they take action and prioritize regularization of status for immigrants in the territory.

“For us personally, it feels like part of our general commitment to decolonization,” said Jess Dorward, project manager of the Supporting Workers Autonomy Project Yukon, a YSWC project which supports the autonomy of workers, especially people who trade sex in the territory.

“This is something we believe in because we have seen the impact while migrants don’t have the same protection and rights as everybody else,” she said.

Dorward said that the council has seen the impact of immigration policies on migrants who trade sex because they are often targeted and can’t report to the police or other law enforcement because they may face threats of deportation.

“This is just allowing violence to thrive,” she said.

On Sept. 17, the Migrant Workers Network, Canada’s largest cross-country coalition of migrant led organizations, organized rallies and protests across nine provinces to demand the government create immigration programs that would grant permanent resident status to all migrants and undocumented people without any exclusions.

The group say they are facing an inequality crisis, with “migrants who grow the food, care for the sick and build and clean the homes bearing some of the heaviest burden.”

They argued that lack of permanent resident status leaves them devoid of basic rights and protections such as healthcare and welfare benefits.

“That’s unethical and a violation of their human rights, and with this kind of precarious status that exists for so many migrant folks, they don’t have the same access, protection and rights, so we want to change that,” Dorward said.

After collecting the signatures, Dorward told the News the YSWC would distribute them to government officials in the territory. With parliament back in session, she said the council is hopeful MPs will be flooded with emails and letters from the petitioners and then feel compelled to make promises that will help make the status of migrant workers in the territory a priority.

“People can come by during their lunch break or whenever they can. The idea behind this is just to provide an accessible way to participate in advocacy,” she said. “We are encouraging folks to connect with their MPs, but also to reach out to (other) federal politicians as well.”

Contact Patrick Egwu at

Patrick Egwu

About the Author: Patrick Egwu

I’m one of the newest additions at Yukon News where I have been writing about a range of issues — politics, sports, health, environment and other developments in the territory.
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