Dear Administrators, Educators, and School Support Staff:
The Alberta Workers Association for Research and Education (AWARE) and Migrante-Alberta are reaching out to you to bring to your attention that there are children and youth that are unable to register and attend school and/or feel safe in school because of their immigration status.
Families who arrive in Canada on temporary visas (tourists, refugee claimants, temporary foreign workers, international students) can fall through the cracks and lose their immigration status (become undocumented). There are many reasons for this including changes to Canadian policies after they have arrived, exploitation by agents abroad who falsely promise permanent residency, abuse by employers, and the decline in one’s physical and mental health. Children are adversely affected where they cannot access basic needs including a structured education.
In British Columbia (B.C) and Ontario students have access to education regardless of their immigration status. Their school boards have passed Sanctuary School policies which believe every child has a right to an education. Their policies allow students without immigration status to enroll as long as they can prove they are living in the neighbourhood. The policies also prevent schools from sharing attendance and registration records with Canada Border Services in order to make sure schools are safe spaces and not spaces of deportation. Edmonton is far behind these policies and our temporary visa and undocumented populations are rising.
Our mission extends beyond assisting undocumented students. When we advocate for "education for all" (Ed4All) we are committed to ensuring that everyone has access to education. Numerous young children from lower-income backgrounds are compelled to work instead of completing their studies or while trying to study to support their families. Additionally, the exorbitant tuition fees burdened upon international students further highlight issues that demand our attention and resolution.
The dreams and aspirations of young minds should not be held hostage by circumstances beyond their control. Denying education to children due to their parents; immigration status perpetuates a cycle of inequality and is a violation of their human rights. We are looking for your help to advocate for policies and practices that ensure education is accessible to every student, regardless of their family's immigration or income status. By doing so, we invest in a brighter future, where barriers are dismantled, dreams are realizes, and the potential for positive change knows no limits. The goal for AWARE and Migrante is to unite with Educators to remove all structural barriers by
identifying the problems schools face that hinder them from helping students and convincing the government, school administrations, and teachers to advocate for the right to education. We hope you can join us by:
1. Signing up to our email list for Ed4All campaign information and events
2. Sharing this information with your friends and colleagues
3. Setting up a meeting at your school to raise awareness about Ed4All
4. Writing to your Public or Catholic School trustee about Sanctuary School policies
5. Talking with your school about how they can support undocumented children, youth and parents.
In the words of Nelson Mandela "Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change
the world". In addition to changing lives, breaking down barriers, and creating opportunities,
education serves as a beacon of hope and empowerment in an increasingly interconnected world.
Migrante Alberta firstname.lastname@example.org