July 20, 2012: Lorraine Gibson and migrant worker safety; Olga Zuyderhoff & “Under One Roof”

Click image for more about OPIRG Windsor

Listen to entire program here:

On July 16th a migrant worker was killed while riding a bike in the Leamington area. It seems every few years such a tragedy occurs. Migrant workers have tough time because they are far from home and family and come here to work for minimum wage in decent to substandard living conditions while never really fitting in. However, they are not alone and to see how  I spoke to Lorraine Gibson, Chairperson of the Migrant Worker Community Program, an organization that seeks “[t]o provide a more positive balance to the life of the migrant worker by offering opportunities to be involved in social, cultural, recreational and communication activities.  Building cultural bridges with host communities offers workers and residents unique opportunities to share.”: this from the organization’s mission statement online.

Click image for events planned and for more information on this organization

We had a discussion about the plight and safety of migrant workers – a topic we’ve covered in the past. A few years ago, I volunteered with Lorraine at Frontier College in Leamington teaching English to migrant workers, and as well in 2008 I worked on a farm near Chatham with Frontier College working with migrant workers during the day and doing some English lessons in the evening. I can say the mostly Mexican workers I met and lived with are the most humble and hardworking people I’ve ever met as well as having immense pride in their culture and language.

Hoeing Brussels sprouts on a farm near Tupperville On. 2008 Photo: Jennifer Luckhart

Here, Gibson explains efforts to build bridges between the community and the migrant workers: 


Non-profit organizations and non-mainstream enterprises like independent bookstores have real difficulties in maintaining upkeep on buildings and other expenses yet are crucial to a fully functioning, thriving and energetic democracy. As much as capitalists would like us to think otherwise, we cannot exist only on Wal-Marts and Costco.  I know from my own experience at the Windsor Workers’ Action Centre and OPIRG, finding affordable and accessible space is a challenge – to understate the issue.

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 In Ottawa, social enterprises concerned with the common good have come together literally under one roof to share space and make space available to other individuals and organizations. Wondering if this is a model that could be followed in Windsor; I contacted Under One Roof in Ottawa to discuss what’s going on there, and I spoke with Olga Zuyderhoff who explained the concept:

See a list of members of Under One Roof HERE

Click image for information on the Centre for Social Innovation mentioned as an inspiration by Zuyderhoff


Featured CD:

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Sample track:


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