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Saint Lucian Wins Award For Canada Migrant Worker Programme Exposé

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Saint Lucian Gabriel Allahdua’s exposé of the Canadian migrant farm workers programme was the winning entry for the 2023 Speaker’s Book Award.

The book ‘Harvesting Freedom: The Life of a Migrant Worker in Canada by Gabriel Allahdua with Edward Dunsworth was declared the winner during a ceremony on Monday.

 Ted Arnott, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, made the announcement.

In his book, Allahdua, a former migrant worker, chronicles exploitation within Canada’s farm labour system.

“When Gabriel Allahdua applied to the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program in Canada, he thought he would be leaving his home in St. Lucia to work in a country with a sterling human rights reputation and commitment to multiculturalism,” the Legislative Assembly of Toronto said in a release on its website.

 “Instead, breakneck quotas and a culture of fear dominated his four years in a mega-greenhouse in Ontario. This deeply personal memoir takes readers behind the scenes to see what life is really like for the people who produce Canada’s food,” the release observed.

In a St. Lucia Times interview in April this year, Allahdua observed that conditions such as high unemployment and a family to support force people to leave Saint Lucia for Canada.

But he said once in Canada, the migrant farm workers are afraid to speak because they fear deportation.

Allahdua went to Canada in January 2012 after losing his livelihood when Hurricane Tomas devastated Saint Lucia.

In Canada, he worked in a greenhouse in Leamington, Ontario, growing and harvesting tomatoes and organic sweet peppers from 2012 to 2015.

Currently, a Canadian citizen, Allahdua has become widely recognised as an outspoken workers’ rights advocate in Canada and is an Activist in Residence at the University of Guelph.

“I have dedicated my life towards a Canadian food system that’s healthy, sustainable and just and I will do whatever is in my power to see that I achieve that,” he told St Lucia Times.

Last year, a group of Saint Lucian women employed in the Canadian farm work programme complained of ill treatment, prompting the government to reach out to Canadian authorities regarding the matter.

Headline photo: ((Left to Right) Edward Dunsworth, Gabriel Allahdua & Speaker Ted Arnott.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. ‘Harvesting Freedom: The Life of a Migrant Worker in Canada by Gabriel Allahdua with Edward Dunsworth was declared the winner during a ceremony on Monday.”

    Congrats and best wishes — although your personal experience was not the best and you endured pain with breakneck quotas for a long time — it allowed you to gain insight into injustices within the agricultural program in Canada. Take care and Godspeed.

  2. He pulled through enough to stay and acquire citizenship. Perhaps this is what should be encouraged. The work is slave work, but with nothing for one to do back home, and no security…nothing wrong with a struggle hustle for 4 years knowing you may have the possibility of new citizenship if you behave smart. Slavery yes, but supermarkets empty with people is telling a different story back here!£

  3. I am glad that he was baptized by brimstone and fire, but it made him stronger. God sends his toughest soldiers to fight the toughest battles. The experience, even though it was terrible, madecmore equipped to deal with life’s challenges. God bless you my brother

  4. for those of u lauding the experience. For all you know, the man could have minus decades off his life existing in slavery conditions. So u all need to ask yourselves; is that struggle worth your life in the.long run just to tell people u abroad. People live in terrible conditions in those places just to say they overseas. They will spend 20 years of their life on the run living in fear of being discovered, can’t really work as they please just to say they overseas. Those days are long gone in my book. I would rather make farm in my yard and sell it than to go through what I know people go through in those places. As the Africans say, those who don’t go, don’t know. Let’s say you are able to get a job, the debt you will go into to buy house and all means u will never finish paying it your whole.life especially if u in the states and Canada. And that’s for those in professional jobs. For other people, they can only afford to rent their entire life.

  5. For those of you trolling st lucia and saying things so hard here and “nothing to here” I encourage to migrate to usa or Canada….just go! I am elated to know that Gabriel has found the rose amidst the thorn! Congrats brother…and what kinda surname is that?

  6. @Real talk – none of the post which I read gave praise to the author’s experience. They simply state that the terrible experience allowed him to gain insight into the oppression he experienced and he became an author as a result. Without the insight into the breakthrough quotas he would not have been able to write the book – it’s simple.

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