Group launches mutual aid fund to help migrants in N.S. meet ‘urgent, basic needs’

A Halifax-based advocacy group has launched a fundraiser dedicated specifically to supporting migrants in Nova Scotia who are facing challenges meeting basic needs.

Tina Oh, an organizer for No One is Illegal – Halifax/K’jipuktuk, said her group launched the “migrant solidarity fund” through GoFundMe on Oct. 13, with 100 per cent of proceeds going to undocumented migrants and migrant workers in the community in need of extra support.

“This is a mutual aid fund rooted in solidarity and building long-term relationships with migrants in our community,” said Oh.

“So instead of a charity approach, mutual aid means instead of waiting for governments to act, we’re going to support and take care of each other as a community outside of those systems that are not responding proportionately to the crises that we’re facing.”

Oh said No One is Illegal – Halifax/K’jipuktuk has received five requests for support from migrants to meet “urgent, basic needs” — like rent for themselves and their families — amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the group has only been around for a year, Oh expects that number to grow as the group continues its community outreach.

Noting there have been several mutual aid funds rolled out over the course of the pandemic, Oh said there haven’t been any dedicated specifically to supporting migrants in Nova Scotia and hopes the new fund “will help to address that gap.”

“We know throughout the pandemic and of course long before that Canada’s racist two-tier immigration system has made it so that undocumented migrants, migrant workers, anyone really with precarious immigration status face barriers in meeting basic needs and accessing essential services, so that includes health care, that includes emergency pandemic support,” she added.

In just over a week, No One is Illegal – Halifax/K’jipuktuk has raised more than $1,000, which Oh said is “great” to see.

She said the goal is to raise $3,000 in the first stretch of the fund, but that the ultimate goal is for the fund to exist long-term, as community members continue to pitch in to support some of the most vulnerable people in the province.

“This is definitely a community effort.”

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