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Letter: Shameful treatment of migrant workers
To the editor:
Re: Summer Marks Fresh Fruit Season Across the Okanagan, June 12 Capital News.
I really enjoyed Norm Letnick’s prosaic update on agriculture. [Kelown-Lake Country MLA and B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture.]
I’m a creative writer too, but perhaps such fictional pieces are better suited for the Arts & Life section.
Where did you stroll, Norm, to pick that peach? It wasn’t picked for you, by someone living in Third World conditions within the community you’re paid to represent? Conditions, r eaders, which would bring you to tears if I could share workers’ stories without fear of them being deported and blacklisted by farm owners reaping the boasted profits.
Abuse, rape, neglect, hunger, persecution, isolation, separation from family- Sorrows Norm will never experience while spending his $101,859 per annum salary us taxpayers provide for his services (heck, I’ll do it for free).
He quoted some impressive figures, but his business trips don’t benefit us. My bank account dwindles, my bills are increasing and I cry daily reading about the factory and farm conditions my fellow working class Chinese endure to support the global economy the Liberals feel so optimistic about.
Upper class Americans and Asians enjoy our fruit, while real locals can only afford the poor quality produce sent here.
How can the Liberals claim they “support agriculture and the people who work in it,” and support Bill 24? How can they call farm workers “temporary migrants”, when some workers spend eight months of the year here, and have done so for over a decade?
There’s a man who has spent more time in the Valley than me, yet this is the first year a Canadian invited him into their home to share a meal. I burn with shame, considering the hospitality shown when I worked abroad, and how we make fools of ourselves while vacationing in his country. He will spend Fathers’ Day alone, because our laws ban his wife and children from visiting. He cannot find solace at Church, because we don’t provide services in the language he prays in.
Do you vote right wing for religious reasons? Jesus wouldn’t shrug and continue to buy cheap food because it’s so darn convenient. He would be fighting alongside me for universal human dignity, despite what people think or fear of death.
Community is a word cheapened during elections, but I believe in it religiously. Local food should be served to the hands that grow it and residents from all classes. Community can’t thrive if my generation is turned into migrant workers too, because we can’t find education, health, or trades jobs in our hometowns that pay enough to free us from debt. It won’t grow if you have to travel to the UAE or Asia to visit your grandchildren. It will die if our fathers and partners are absent because they have no choice but to work on the rigs.
I’m a landless food grower, but I’ve lost my appetite knowing the heartaches of those who grow food locally and internationally.
I’m starving for change. If you agree, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The revolution will not be televised, but it will be delicious.