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RAMA is a grassroots migrant justice group that strives to support the approximately 1,200 Latin American and Caribbean “temporary” migrant farmworkers in the Okanagan Valley in their ongoing struggle for dignity, community, and humanity. Our aim is to be worker-led and to respond to the needs identified by migrant workers as they arise. Ultimately, our intention is for migrant workers themselves to name and direct our priorities.
We are a community of people from diverse backgrounds and with varying relationships to borders that is committed to migrant justice. Together, we engage in direct support work to ensure workers’ everyday needs are met, to facilitate their access to local social services and to guide them in navigating local communities.
We accomplish this by:
- Accompanying migrant workers to the doctor, chiropractor, Service Canada office, store or other venue to ensure their fair and smooth access to social and commercial services
- Planning events that bring migrant farmworkers into the communities where they live and work and facilitate their meeting and interacting with “locals”
- Monitoring and documenting migrant farmworkers’ living and working conditions in the Okanagan Valley
- Advocating individually and collectively on migrant farmworkers’ personal and collective behalf in situations where workers are prevented from doing so themselves
- Breaking bread, sharing meals, going dancing, running errands and generally communing with one another
- Bearing witness to migrant farmworkers’ struggles by listening to, recording and carrying forward their stories and experiences
- Collaborating with workers in times of workplace, immigration or familial crisis by facilitating their access to legal aid, social services and personal support
- Translating and interpreting for migrant farmworkers with employers, government officials, community members and other workers
- Coordinating free English lessons for migrant farmworkers with experienced ESL teachers
- Advocating for workers’ rights and freedoms at the level of the municipal, provincial and federal governments to ensure they are allotted the dignity and respect they deserve
In our dreams, locals no longer use the word “foreign” to describe the men and women who work on Okanagan farms. RAMA envisions a future in which migrant workers and their families, regardless of documentation, are recognized as integral to the communities of our region. We are dedicated to forging horizontal relationships in order to bridge the gap between migrants and the communities in which they live and work in Canada.