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An open letter to No One is Illegal (NOII) and their supporters

December 15, 2015

To NOII-Vancouver/NOII-Toronto and their supporters:

On November 30th, a letter was issued by members of the Rwandan genocide survivor community in Vancouver that asked No One Is Illegal-Vancouver to be accountable for inviting Jean Hakizamana to their “Refugees Welcome” event on October 11th, during which he physically assaulted a 75-year-old Rwandan woman and genocide survivor.

We are a group of Black women and allies who continue to be concerned because despite No One is Illegal-Vancouver’s public apology and admission of systemic anti-blackness, a new round of harassment and intimidation has been unleashed on Black women who have spoken out in support of the Nov 30th letter.

Indeed, individual Black women who have publicly supported the Rwandan survivor community in Vancouver and Toronto have been targeted for public harassment and intimidation by supporters of No One is Illegal- Toronto and Vancouver. Moreover, even though No One is Illegal-Vancouver admits to persistent anti-blackness in its organizing and a former prominent member of No One is IIlegal-Toronto recently wrote an article critical of the same dynamics in the Toronto organization, NOII continues to watch silently as Black women, including a 75-year-old Rwandan genocide survivor, have been subjected to escalating harassment and intimidation.

As Black women and allies we conclude that not only does No One is Illegal condone such practices, but we understand now, more than ever, that the safety and well-being of Black women takes a backseat in NOII’s work. We want to be clear: the type of behaviour recently on display is unacceptable. We call on No One is Illegal – Vancouver and Toronto, as well as its supporters and friends to desist from taking part in this continued harassment and intimidation of Black women. We encourage No One is Illegal and their supporters and friends to hold themselves to a higher standard of behaviour and accountability.

Please also see:


Elleni Centime Zeleke, Delice Mugabo, Marie-Jolie Rwigema, Hawa Y. Mire

Supported by,

Omisoore H. Dryden, Alissa Trotz, Nathalie Batraville, Karine Myrgianie Jean-François, Diana Uwase Sauter, Umwali Sollange, Rachel Zellars, Nydia Dauphin, Sumaya Ugas, Samah Affan, Hirut Eyob, Adija Mugabo, Sarah Gasizingwa, Shushan Araya, Ande Beshir, Marjorie Rémy, Keshia Williams, Rinaldo Walcott, Sirma Bilge, Pablo Idahosa, Beenash Jafri, Kimm Kent, N. Geethanjali Lena, Ahmed Ahmed, Lali Mohamed, Sonia Djelidi, Roshan A. Jahangeer , Darryl Leroux, Amal Kenshil, Kira Page, Edward Ou Jin Lee, Ruth Wilson, Michèle Spieler, Leila Bdeir, Bruno Cornellier, Jenny Heijun Wills, Ilyas Cumar, Francisco-Fernando Granados, Louise Tam, Ali Rukariza, Jennifer Ma, Melissa Levine, Ricky Varghese, Leanne Simpson, Randi-Lee Taylor, Andrea Canales

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 19, 2015 7:07 pm

    I am grateful to you for sharing this experience. Unfortunately, myself and one of my best friends had very unfortunate experiences while trying to get involved with NOII Toronto. My friend was married to a man with no-status, and their Canadian born children were experiencing discrimination on multiple fronts trying to access city and provincial services, because their father was nonstatus. She tried to share her story and to get NOII to advocate on behalf of women and children experiencing violence and further marginalization as a result of systemic racism, as well as address the unique challenges faced by families when spouses take out their internalized oppression on their families when they don’t have power or control to move around and live freely with precarious status. It was extremely clear that NOII Toronto is male-led and male-centred, yet they would repeatedly say they seek to be led by women, and women of colour. We did not see evidence of this lived out through action, nor support when attempts were made to form a committee and take action on these issues. The Rights for Non-Status Women’s Network has been instrumental in highlighting unique issues faced by women and children, and again NOII has made no attempt to be involved with them or take interest in how their work is deeply connected. I am so sorry to hear that this abuse continues, solidarity with you all as you seek resolve and healing.


  1. Response to Open Letter and further apology | Decolonization

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