Cultural producers call for cancellation of Border Security in open letter

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      As part of a campaign to cancel the TV series Border Security, an open letter of concern has been signed by over 100 artists, calling for the show to be cancelled.

      Among the names who have signed are author Naomi Klein; documentary filmmaker and TV host Avi Lewis; actor and playwright Marcus Yousef; filmmaker Velcrow Ripper; actors Margot Kidder, Nicola Cavendish, and Maggie Wheeler; My American Cousin director Sandy Wilson; film festival programmer and author Amber Dawn; and media producer Sid Tan.

      Artists and cultural producers who are interested in adding their names to the list can email

      Meanwhile, a petition (endorsed by Naomi Klein, Sarah Polley, and more) calling for the show's cancellation has gathered over 23,000 signatures.

      Protests against the show arose in March when the show's camera crews accompanied law enforcement teams on raids on construction sites to arrest immigrants.

      Others who have spoken out against the show include: Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson; BC Civil Liberties Association; Amnesty International; Council of Canadians; MLAs Mable Elmore, Jenny Kwan, and Raj Chouhan; and more.

      Here is the open letter of concern: 

      To Force Four Entertainment, Shaw Media, Global BC, National Geographic, Canadian Border Services Agency, and all other producers, financiers, and broadcasters of Border Security: Canada’s Front Line,
      We are actors, performers, producers, directors, technicians and a wide variety of cultural professionals who work across media platforms that include film, TV, and live performance.
      On March 13, 2013 a film crew from Vancouver-based company Force Four Entertainment was embedded with Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) agents during a raid at a construction site. They filmed eight workers being arrested and jailed in a humiliating spectacle. The footage was shot as part of an ongoing television series Border Security: Canada’s Front Line.
      Several of the men arrested have since been deported, and their families have been torn apart.
      We write this letter out of serious concern for those already affected and those who may be harmed by future episodes of this show. Border Security makes no effort to show the lived realities or perspectives of those featured in the show. Rather, it packages and sells entertainment made from genuine human crisis and humiliation, particularly of those who are vulnerable migrants and refugees. This show is based on sensationalizing their stories and spreading fear.
      At best, this TV show is an invasion of privacy with questionable ethics on informed consent. At worst, it can put the lives of vulnerable migrants and their families at risk by commercially exploiting their stories for broadcast. As Amnesty International notes, “Amnesty International believes that filming and broadcasting these raids has jeopardized the basic rights of these undocumented workers, as protected under the international conventions that Canada has ratified.”
      This comes at a time when there is little quality television that deals with the real-life pressures that force people to migrate. We also find it extremely troubling that the federal government has approved of and dedicates resources to this production. This is not the Canadian entertainment or cultural production that so many are proud to call their own. 
      We are calling on Force Four, CBSA, Shaw Media, and Global TV to end production of Border Security, and all associated partners to withdraw their support for the show. Deportation is not entertainment. We seek to uphold legally-affirmed human rights and respect for basic human dignity.  Please join us in our efforts towards being conscious and ethical cultural producers.

      Khalilah Alwani, Performance Artist
      Annie Banks, Artist and Cultural Producer
      Samuel Pruneau Beaudry, Composer and Performance Artist
      Hauke Boettcher,  Filmmaker and Editor
      Sam Bradd, Artist and Cultural Producer
      Diego Briceño, Independent Media Producer
      Zain Burgess, Multimedia Artist
      Angelina L. Cantada, Curly Tail Pictures
      Nicola Cavendish, Actor and Playwright
      Patricia Chica, Filmmaker and TV Content Producer
      Stéfanie Clermont, Documentary Filmmaker
      Martina Comstock, Writer and Director
      Andrea Curtis, Producer
      Amber Dawn, Film Festival Programmer and Author
      Deborah de Boer, Writer and Curator
      Ruby Smith Díaz, Filmmaker
      Farzana Doctor, Coproducer and Author
      Jadis Dumas, Documentary Filmmaker
      David Emanuel, Actor and Director
      Jesse Freeston, Independent Filmmaker and Journalist
      Julien Fréchette, Director
      David-James Fernandes, Filmmaker
      David William Murray Fisher, Actor, Writer
      Amy Fox, Producer, Trembling Void Studios
      Richard Fung, Video artist and Filmmaker
      Damien Gillis, Documentary Filmmaker
      Gordon Grdina, Musician and Composer
      Malcolm Guy, Director and Producer
      Deblekha Guin, Project Manager and Film Producer
      Freda Guttman, Multimedia Artist
      Callista Haggis, Documentary filmmaker
      Christopher Heffley, Creative Director
      Glenn Hodgins, Filmmaker
      Audrey Huntley, Independent Documentary Filmmaker
      Troy Jackson, Singer and Producer
      Reg Johanson, Poet
      Rosina Kazi, Singer and Producer
      Ali Kazimi, Filmmaker
      Sara Kendall, Performance Artist and Filmmaker
      Noura Kevorkian, Filmmaker
      Arshad Khan, Filmmaker
      Sarah Khan, Professional Writer, Women, Action, & the Media (WAM!) Vancouver
      David Khang, Artist and Art Educator
      Margo Kidder, Actor
      Lois Klassen, Artist and Research Ethics Professional
      Bonnie Klein, O.C. (Order of Canada), Filmmaker
      Naomi Klein, Filmmaker and Writer
      Erica Køhn, Artistic Director and Filmmaker
      Zoe Kreye, Artist and Professor
      Min Sook Lee, Filmmaker
      Diana Leung, Filmmaker and Cultural Planner
      Avi Lewis, Documentary Filmmaker and TV Host
      Franklin López, Media Saboteur
      Jessica MacCormack, Artist and Professor
      Laurie MacMillan, Documentary Filmmaker
      Alex Mah, Filmmaker
      David Maidman, Community Television producer
      Marc-André Manseau, Producer and Director
      Richard Marcuse, former Western Representative for Canadian Actors Equity Association
      Claudia Medina, Filmmaker
      Lindsay Miles, Facilitator and Writer
      Amy Miller, Director and Producer
      Elizabeth Miller, Documentary Filmmaker & Professor
      Yvette Narlock, Soundscape Design/Music Producer for Film and Television
      Jan Nathanson, Producer
      Cecily Nicholson, Artist and Arts Administrator
      Isaac Oomen, Filmmaker and Journalist
      Christina Panis, Arts Administrator
      Shauna Paull, Poet and Teacher
      Nicholas Perrin, Writer and Artist
      Summer Pervez, Filmmaker and Professor
      Helgi Piccinin, Documentary Filmmaker
      Imtiaz Popat, Producer, Monkeyking Motion Pictures
      Ian Iqbal Rashid, Independent Filmmaker
      Rhona Raskin, Production Company Owner and Radio Producer
      Vanessa Richards, Artist and Cultural Worker
      Velcrow Ripper, Filmmaker
      Ally Robertson, Multimedia Artist
      Emilio Rojas, Filmmaker and Performance Artist
      Javier Romero, Editor and Cultural promoter
      Tom Sandborn, Writer
      Igor Santizo, Artist and Teacher
      Regine Schmid, Producer
      John Sharkey, Videographer and Programmer
      Rupinder Singh Sidhu, Composer and Producer
      Adrian A. Stimson, Curator and a former Canadian Immigration Officer
      Jordan Strom, Visual Art Curator
      Sid Tan, Media Producer
      Jeremy Todd, Interdisciplinary Artist and Educator
      Geneviève Trudel, Art Historian
      Kim Villagante, Multimedia Artist and Singer-Songwriter
      Mark Vonesch, Director of Reel Youth
      Tamara Vukov, Filmmaker and Educator
      Harsha Walia, Independent Filmmaker and Writer
      Shannon Walsh, Director and Writer
      Maggie Wheeler, Actor
      D Lee Williams, Filmmaker and Artist
      Sandy Wilson, Film Director and Screenwriter
      Rita Wong, Writer
      Don Xaliman, Technical Director
      b.h Yael, Filmmaker and Professor
      Marcus Youssef, Actor and Playwright
      Alejandro Zuluaga, Documentary Filmmaker



      SPY vs SPY

      Apr 19, 2013 at 11:54am

      Prime Minister "The Freakin Moron" Harper live in a delusional world. He has buried in the back of his brain and IDEA, that Canadians are just AMERICANS who need a push in the RIGHT DIRECTION. Pardon the play on words.

      This show is all about emotional control. Make Canadians Suspicious, Fearfull, Angry and then they will vote Conservative forever.

      Canadian are very emotionally different from Americans. The simple fact that I never had to worry about going to Viet Nam, a National Health Care Plan, Descent Schools and What do you Know ??? A Kinder Gentler American, Northern American or CANADIAN

      Harper is starting to act desperate now that the Federal Liberals have a Leader. Trudeau and the Liberals will be polling 40% - 45% by July and Harper knows he and the Shit Bags are finished.

      Mary-Colin Chisholm

      Apr 20, 2013 at 4:28pm

      While as an artist I hope to sometimes expose and even soothe misery, I hope I never cause, or profit from, human suffering. This show humiliates the people being filmed and degrades anyone who watches.

      enquiring mind wants to know

      Apr 21, 2013 at 7:53am

      Just the letter supposed to look like that? It looks kind of incomplete to me --more like a statement? Where is the letter going? Who is it addressed to? Thanks.

      Harper Fan 69

      Apr 21, 2013 at 11:54pm

      There is a lot of really awful hack artists on that list. If artists of their caliber hate the show so much I think I'm going to have to check it out.

      Grandma Cool

      Apr 23, 2013 at 2:17pm

      You guys couldn't get Patrick Duffy to sign?!?!?!?!?

      He'll sign anything! Go for it!

      Mayor McCheese

      Apr 23, 2013 at 4:37pm

      I also endorse this message. I haven't seen the show, but I sign a ton of stuff in McDonaldland, and usually without reading it. Hit me back