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."
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.