Last night we participated in an animated discussion about the plight of migrant workers after watching award-winning doc film-maker Min Sook Lee‘s moving film El Contrato.
This film focuses on agricultural workers from Mexico, who speak no English and who come to a Canada for 8 months every year, to work in the vast greenhouses in Leamington, picking hothouse tomatoes. After witnessing their exploitive working conditions I will not look at a tomato the same way, or have the same pleasure eating one. It’s probably no different elsewhere in the world. However, this in Canada? A country that questions human rights violations in other countries? ( I know I know we have no right to take the moral high ground given the treatment of our indigenous populations!).
The commodification of labour from the developing world, in the name of globalization, has allowed the free market to engage these workers under a legal regime that would be illegal if the workers were Canadians. This movie is a further reminder that our current immigration policy which is biased in favour of temporary employment harks back to a time in history when the head tax was imposed on the Chinese who built the trans Canada rail.
We are building a society based on labour capital which we use, abuse and discard or lose to another nation rather than nurturing human capital whereby people would put their roots down and build flourishing communities here!
Follow MCIS’ Social Impact of Translation Initiative and Docs for Change.
Watch El Contrato on-line at National Film Board for free and let us know if you did!
Read more about the activism of the Migrant Worker’s Alliance here and join the movement!