Community Alliance for Social Justice (CASJ)

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CASJ Chairperson’s Report, 2006

Posted by casjcanada on December 2, 2006

Involvement, Advocacy and Alliance Building

(Delivered at the General  Membership Assembly of Community Alliance for Social Justice on Dec. 2, 2006 at the Parkdale Library Auditorium)

Community Involvement, Advocacy and Alliance Building towards the pursuit of Social Justice highlight the important contributions we all make as CASJ’s allied  community and social organizations in the Greater Toronto Area.

During the past two years, we have worked together through major CASJ community-based initiatives in the following areas:

1. The continuing search for justice in Jeffrey Reodica case and other Human Rights Concerns: The holding of our consultation meetings and public assemblies    defining our major organization thrusts and collaborative work in the Justice for Jeffrey Campaign, Youth, Policing and Community Safety; The issues and problems affecting Filipino Live-in Caregiver Program participants and migrant workers; and the campaign towards Access to Trades and Professions. Many members of the Filipino community and the City of Toronto also extended assistance in these areas.

2. The result of the survey and research conducted by CASJ’s board member Mila Garcia in collaboration with Dr. Philip Kelly of York University was presented at the 2005 International Metropolis Conference by Ms.Garcia and Dr. Kelly. Another research collaboration between CASJ and Dr. Kelly, this time funded by Centre of Excelence for Research on Immigration and Setlement (CERIS)  and focusing on the Filipino-Canadian unregulated professionals is to be released soon.  This research will be presented at the National Metropolis Conference,  March 2007.

3. Along with other groups, CASJ recommended to the Police Services Board and the LeSage Commission that police officers wear name plates instead of badges; CASJ also submitted recommendations to the now concluded Coroner’s inquest into the shooting death of Jeffrey Reodica. Some of these were integrated into the seven Jury Recommendations for changes in policing.

4. CASJ also successfully lobbied the Legal Aid Ontario for legal aid to obtain the legal services of  two counsels, namely lawyers Ms. Kikelola Roach and Mr. Mike Leitold to represent CASJ in the Coroner’s inquest. Although the inquest was shrouded by the Filipino community’s perception of Coroner Bonita Porter’s bias towards the police and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the inquest recommendations, in the words of CASJ President Hermie Garcia “were a victory for the Filipino and ethnic communities though they failed to address racism, the underlying reason behind the violence that took the life of Jeffrey Reodica.”

5. CASJ’s collaborative work with Toronto-based artists headed by Miss Lilac Caña, Kababayan Community Centre, Philippine Independence Day Council (PIDC),  community organizations, concerned groups and individuals raised $10,000 for the livelihood   projects of Southern Leyte mudslide victims through Citizens Disaster Response Centre (CDRC) ,  a community-based  Philippine disaster relief organization recognized by the UNDP.

6. Last July 5, CASJ applied for funding under the City of Toronto Access Equity and Human Rights Community Partnership and Investment Program (AEHR-CPIP). CASJ has been approved a $5,000.00 grant and is now implementing the program in its various stages.

7. On November 14, CASJ was granted official standing in the Legislative Committee hearing on Bill 124: An Act to provide for fair access to regulated professions Act. Last November 22, CASJ panel members Edwin Mercurio, Pura Velasco and  Flor Dandal presented its  seven-point recommendation to the Legislative Committee on Bill 124. As of yesterday, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario included in its report five out of seven CASJ recommendations in the Parliamentary Interim Summary Recommendations, along with the recommendations of other community groups.

These are some of CASJ’s major accomplishments. My friends, community partners, allied organizations and supporters, it is my firm belief that by working together through CASJ and our allied organizations we can all effect positive changes to our Filipino-Canadian community while contributing to the economic, social, cultural and political advancement of Canada and multiculturalism.

Due to our collaboration with our allied organizations on our community-based initiatives, we have grown to be a respectable community organization and proved ourselves to be a strong advocate not only for social justice, but also for the well-being of our Filipino migrant workers and LCP participants, our unrecognized Philippine-trained professionals, our youth, seniors and our growing Filipino-Canadian community.

In an age where community involvement and partnerships with civil society are increasingly being recognized as indispensable, there is clearly a growing need for partnership development and renewal of commitment to our own community among our allied and sectoral organizations.  On this important day, let us resolve to make the best and widest possible use of the cooperative spirit and experiences we learned in the process of our work and struggles, in the service of our Filipino-Canadian community. I urge all of you to participate in this process of renewal and reaffirmation of your trust and confidence in us by giving a fresh mandate to the officers and board members and by accepting new member-applicants to CASJ by electing them to the new set of officers for 2007 and onwards.

In Solidarity,

Edwin C. Mercurio
Chairperson, Community Alliance for Social Justice

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