Participants experience the spectrum of exploitation that migrant workers face.

For years, migrant workers coming to Canada have been subjected to exploitation. They are often underpaid, overworked and abused. This is made possible because of systemic shortfalls of Canadian immigration laws including the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

Migrant workers come to Canada with closed-work permits which restrict them to working only for the employer on the permit. These permits allow employers to repeatedly abuse workers and return them back to the country of origin if workers try to assert their rights.

It is almost impossible for migrant workers to find other employment – even if they are being mistreated.

Migrant workers often hold jobs in isolated places such as farms and homes. Many have limited English language abilities. As a result, they are unable to ask for help. These circumstances add to the plight of people who came to Canada to work hard and save money to support their families and lives back home.

In addition, unscrupulous recruiters often charge workers fees and interest that often consume whatever earnings a worker might accumulate.

The Migrant Workers Exercise allows individuals to experience the mistreatment of migrant workers.

Our hope is that participants become inspired to reflect upon themselves and demand systemic change.

In this workshop, all participants play the role of migrant workers. The Collaborative Network will provide facilitators and a narrator. In addition, two Collaborative Network members will take on the role of employers.

Participants are led through the stages of recruitment, arrival, harsh realities, additional coercion, recourses, outcomes, debrief and action. They will learn about the rampant exploitation of migrant workers and the role that all Canadians play.

They also learn of possible actions to end exploitation and improve workers’ conditions.

This was all was inspired by the KAIROS Blanket Exercise which raises awareness among Canadians about the impact on past and ongoing colonization of the Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

This experience is meant for anyone interested in learning more about migrant worker issues in Canada.

Students, service providers, government institutions, law enforcement, community members and others are invited to sign up.

To book an exercise, please contact us at vkalaydzhieva@csj-to.ca. This is provided free of charge to groups who cannot afford to pay. Otherwise, fees are adjusted on a sliding scale.

Developed with the participation of:

  • Sister Lois Anne Bordowitz, Faithful Companions of Jesus
  • Luis Mata, Anti-Human Trafficking Program Coordinator, FCJ Refugee Centre
  • Jacinta Goveas

Coordinators: Leah Watkiss and Varka Kalaydzhieva, Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto (CSJ) staff

Our thanks also go to Sister Georgette Gregory, CSJ, the CSJ Communications Department, the previous chairs of the Collaborative Network, Sister Thérèse Meunier, CSJ, Ann McGowan, and all past members for their dedication and hard work.

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