After actively deciding to put the group on hiatus for a time, this past November, 2009, No One Is Illegal Ottawa began operating again informally in response to No One Is Illegal Toronto’s call for solidarity in the National Day of Action: Justice for Migrant Workers on December 2, 2009. Existing members and new organizers were able to have a few quick organizing meetings in order to pull off a successful banner drop action on December 2nd. This helped us gain momentum for a re-launching of No One is Illegal Ottawa.
In late December, NOII Ottawa applied for funding and working group status with OPIRG-GRIPO at Ottawa University and continued to meet informally in order to plan a workshop which was presented at the Global Apartheid Conference at Ottawa University this January 2010. The workshop featured Hassan S.K., an organizer with NOII Toronto, who linked the G8/G20 with migrant justice issues, and discussed the organizing that NOII Toronto is doing. A member of NOII Ottawa discussed some of the previous work that NOII Ottawa had done, as well as some of the future interests particularly associated with organizing around the G8/20 meetings in June. A member of Collectif du Chat Noir, the local G8/20 resistance organizing collective in Ottawa, discussed broader plans around G8/20 resistance. The conference gave us the opportunity not only to network with NOII members in Toronto and Montreal, to learn about their current organizing, but also to generate interest and recruit new members, in order to officially re-launch the group.
On Monday, February 1st, NOII Ottawa held a general meeting at McNabb community centre. Many past organizers, as well as some new members, came together to discuss past organizing and potential directions of the group. At this meeting, it was decided that NOII Ottawa would meet regularly. Our meetings will be happening every second Monday at 6:30 pm at the CUPW office, 377 Bank St. (room TBA). Our next meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 1, 2010.
In terms of future organizing plans, NOII Ottawa has decided to continue mobilizing resistance to the G8/20. We had an event on February 12, 2010 at Shanghai restaurant as a way to raise funds for a NOII Ottawa chartered bus, as a way to provide transportation to Toronto to people for whom it would otherwise be inaccessible. Apart from bringing out a lot of old and new faces, and making some great connections, we were able to raise over $800. With this money, we don’t want to just send a bunch of activists from Ottawa to Toronto to riot in the streets. It is the hope that our local organizing will be able to mobilize immigrants and poor communities, people without status, migrant workers, and those engaging in daily community struggles. This will give the opportunity for people in Ottawa to attend the People’s Forum, to engage with other local community struggles locally and to join up with communities in resistance in Toronto for the Community Day of Action on June 25. Ideally, this mobilization will foster sustained community organizing locally in Ottawa, as well as develop strong inter-community networks. There are still more conversations to be had about what type of local actions and organizing NOII Ottawa will be taking on in relation with the G8/20.
Another plan that was decided as a part of local organizing is to hold regular community dinners. Our first one scheduled for Friday, March 12 at 7:00 pm at the Hintonburg Community Centre (1064 Wellington Street West), the idea is that regular dinners rotating around various community spaces in various parts of the city is a way to engage with community members, and particularly migrant communities. Short videos and guest speakers will allow us to raise awareness of issues facing people without status as a way to build support and solidarity. It also creates a community space within which people can share their own struggles.
NOII Ottawa will also be continuing to build on work that had already been started by NOII Ottawa in the past: our “Solidarity City” campaign. This work is similar to that being done by NOII Toronto. We will be continuing to build a network of service providers (including educational, employment, food, health, housing, legal, shelter, settlement, family, and youth services) who will serve people without status, and making this information available to those who need it so that they can access services without fear of detention or deportation. This is also a way to engage with service providers around the rights of non-status people and why it is important to create access without fear to basic services, as a way to build solidarity with the struggles of migrants and create a continuing dialogue of resistance. We have scheduled to meet with various service centre workers from around the city at our next meeting, as a way to learn about their experiences with working with people without status, so we can gain a better idea about how to continue to approach service centres.
Much work is still to be done, and many plans are still to be made. We encourage all interested parties to join us at our meeting on Monday, March 1, 2010, at 6:30 PM, at the CUPW office (room TBA).