Prominent migrant worker activist Gregorgina (Gina) Bahiwal is celebrating.
Bahiwal learned Friday (January 13) that her deportation order has been cancelled by the federal government.
Bahiwal was to be deported January 15 at 9:30 p.m.
Upon hearing about Bahiwal’s imminent deportation, hundreds of people across Canada wrote letters of support to cancel her deportation.
Bahiwal came to Canada from the Philippines in 2008 under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and has worked in vegetable-packing, housekeeping, and fast food.
Throughout her time in Canada, Gina has been a bedrock for justice in the community, according to a media release.
This has included advocating tirelessly for the rights of migrant workers like her, particularly among migrant women, providing mutual aid and services to other workers, and exposing the exploitative practices of recruiters.
“This is a victory for all migrant workers, however the fight is not over yet. Myself and the other workers are going to continue to organize and to fight against the injustices of our immigration where we are tied to a single employer,” Bahiwal said.
“The only solution is permanent immigration status on arrival for all temporary foreign workers. Thank you to everyone who showed solidarity with me. Let’s continue to organize together so we create a society based on compassion and fairness for all workers, migrants and Canadians,” Bahiwal also said.
Bahiwal has appeared in the documentary The End of Immigration, helped organize the J4MW Pilgrimage to Freedom in 2011, gave a deputation on migrant rights to the federal HUMA Standing Committee, and spoke at a press conference on Parliament Hill for the launch of the 2016 J4MW Harvesting Freedom campaign.
Lawyer Richard Wazana said that he’s “relieved that reason has prevailed and that the government has decided against deporting a champion of migrant worker rights who fought hard to overturn a law that she herself was a victim of”.
Wazana said: “The optics of removing such a community leader were not good. I’m glad that Gina can remain in Canada and await a decision on her humanitarian application.”
The Justice for Migrant Workers said in the media release that people across the country came together and stood in solidarity with Bahiwal.
The group said: “We celebrate this victory as we remember all migrants who have been deported, detained, injured and died and who, like Gina, continue to organize for broad-based change to end injustices faced by migrant workers in workplaces and communities across Canada.”
Justice for Migrant Workers has been fundraising for Bahiwal’s legal fees and will continue to support the leadership of migrant workers like her in their struggle for justice and dignity.