No One Is Illegal holds celebration to coincide with release of new book Undoing Border Imperialism

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      One of Vancouver's most persistent and vocal immigrant-rights' groups, No One Is Illegal, is celebrating its 10th birthday today (December 15).

      From 1 to 5 p.m. at the Bonsor Community Centre in Burnaby (one block from the Metrotown Station), it's offering a free lunch, a series of speakers and performers, and launching a new book called Undoing Border Imperialism (AK Press).

      The book was mostly written by NOII organizer Harsha Walia, but includes contributions from Carmen Aguirre, Jessica Danforth, Nassim Elbardouh, Karla Lottini, Cecily Nicholson, and Lily Shinde.

      In a recent interview at Waves Coffee House in the Downtown Eastside, Walia told the Straight that she was wrote the book after she realized that the publisher was open to doing something more collaborative and that would help build social movements.

      "Part of it was to be able to transmit knowledge in some way to further future generations—and the next generation of organizers," she said. "That was also a very compelling reason. Oftentimes, one thing we lack in activism is intergenerational memory and structures of memory."

      Harsha Walia wrote most of Undoing Border Imperialism.

      Undoing Border Imperialism points out that No One Is Illegal was created during the "heightened racist national hysteria and escalating attacks on immigrant and refugee communities after the incidents of September 11, 2001".

      The group's first chapter was created in Montreal, followed by others in cities across the country, including Vancouver.

      NOII works alongside other social movements, including those fighting for indigenous rights, Palestinian liberation, and dignity for workers.

      Undoing Border Imperialism includes a chronology detailing some of the group's actions across the country since 9/11.

      It includes its efforts to help refugees from North Africa and the Middle East form a group called Refugees Against Racial Profiling, which played a role in overturning several deportations.

      No One Is Illegal also played a leading role on behalf of 76 Tamil refugee claimants who arrived in B.C. in 2009 aboard the MV Ocean Lady.

      Walia said that one of her goals is to get the public to see immigrants with "all the humanity they deserve", and not just as "replacement labour" or as threats to other people's jobs.

      She also criticized the Conservative government for bringing in an unprecedented number of temporary foreign workers, who are not given a path to citizenship.

      "So the shift from permanent residency to temporary precarity again reinforces that idea that immigrants are not wanted unless they are cheap labour, which harkens back to 100 years ago with things like the head tax," Walia said.



      Michele Baillie

      Dec 15, 2013 at 12:34pm

      I have read Harsha Walia's comments over the years in various papers and online articles.....I can say unequivocally, that she has no idea whatsoever what makes for a stable, law abiding society.


      Dec 15, 2013 at 9:54pm

      Another wonderful example of how rarely "social justice" groups can simply focus on a single issue. Look at the photo: apparently immigrant rights have something in common with indigenous rights. Such tautology leaves the bulk of us as "the other" even as they proclaim ostensibly universal values. Good stuff.

      Barking Mad

      Dec 16, 2013 at 12:07am

      It is interesting how "activists" such as Harsha Walia can be admired as a supporter of rights and anti-racism while advocating violence and exclusion of all those who disagree with their rhetoric and methods. This "us versus them" rhetoric is no different from the odious ranting from the extreme right.

      I have listened to her strident speeches and heard quite clearly her advocating violence as a protest tool, or as she terms it, part of the "diversity of tactics". "Violence" means what she has determined it to mean. Violence can only be committed aginst people or animals, therefore destruction of public or ersonal property cannot be termed violence. She has praised the Black Bloc for their vandalism and destructive actions, which can not be termed violence as "windows are not living".

      Neither is Black Bloc thugs brawling with police "violence" as those brave activists are simply "de-arresting their comrades" to keep them from falling into the hands of the brutal and corrupt system.

      Sarah Beuhler

      Dec 19, 2013 at 2:48pm

      And the comment section predictably turns racist and Walia's stalker turns up to bleat on about violence.


      Dec 19, 2013 at 4:14pm

      Haha, a genocide of "your white people"? You mean the mish mash of different white races that came to "canada" because yall fucked up your countries and wanted a fresh start on some stolen indian land? Land that "your white races" had to steal by use of genocide as a means of violently taking our land from us for your white peoples use? Hmmm....cry me a river before you go an steal or poison it will ya? Racist KKKlanadians