Monthly Archives: July 2013

Personalities @ CPT 2013 Peace Camp

Brownman Ali

Born on the island of Trinidad, schooled in NYC and now based in Toronto, Brownman Ali is heralded by the New York Times as ”Canada’s preeminent jazz trumpeter”.  This highly in demand multi-award winning artist makes time each July in his frenetically busy touring schedule to be the Musical Director for the Toronto Children’s Peace Theatre.  2013 marks his fourth year as the Musical Director for CPT.  When asked why he continues to come back year after year — most recently on the tail end of touring with the legendary Paul Simon — he states, “there’s real magic happening here.  These kids never fail to astound me with what they’re capable of.  Each year I push them just a little harder, and they’re capacity seems boundless.  As corny as it may sound — I keep coming back because these kids are the future, and I’m honored to be in a position here to maybe foster and nurture that evolution just a little bit”.

When not at CPT Brownman tirelessly leads 7 unique ensembles of his own including the internationally acclaimed Miles Davis influenced BROWNMAN ELECTRYC TRIO, and the award-winning CRUZAO latin-jazz quintet.  In high demand in the the studio world with over 300 CD appearances to date, Brownman delivers stylistically authentic horn playing over a wide range of styles from bebop to hiphop having worked with the likes of Guru’s Jazzmatazz (replacing Donald Byrd in that primordial ensemble), Mos Def, KRS-1, Quincy Jones, Paul Simon, Mingus Dynasty Big Band, Gary Bartz, Chucho Valdes & far too many more to name here.  He is considered to be one of the most unique and provocative improvising trumpet players in the nation today and is widely regarded as a vanguard for the evolution of Jazz in Canada.  A highly decorated player, his accolades include 2 National Jazz Awards (and 11 nominations over the years), a CBC Galaxie Rising Star award, a SOCAN composers award, a Toronto Independent Music Award, an induction into the WHO’S WHO IN BLACK CANADA, a BRAVO! channel documentary on his life, NOW magazine naming him “Toronto’s Best Jazz Musician”, CBC Radio Canada named him “one of the most recorded trumpet players in Canadian history”, the Trinidad & Tobago Consulate General awarded him with a citation for being a “Distinguished National of Trinidad”, and is listed by Air Canada as one of the “Top 10 reasons to visit Toronto.” For more on this dynamic artist please visit: Official website: ; Facebook: ; YouTube:

Molly Tsukitis

Molly our fabulous in house storyteller

Molly our fabulous in house storyteller

Molly is from a Scottish family where the oral tradition is strong. She is currently the Storyteller in Residence at The Children’s Peace Theatre Toronto.  She has offered storytelling workshops for TESL Ontario, Teacher Professional Development Days, The Little Children of the World and other locations abroad such as Tennessee and the Philippines. You can read more about Molly here @


When Deportation = Death: Death at the hands of UK Deportation Police


Written by Harmit Athwal, and available originally here

No one should be surprised at the death of Jimmy Mubenga at the hands of three G4S officers.

Twenty years ago, in 1993, a ‘specialist’ squad of deportation police – SO13, arrived at the home of Joy Gardner in Crouch End, London, to arrest and deport her and her 5-year-old son to Jamaica as overstayers. Unwilling to leave, she was handcuffed, wrapped up like a parcel in over 13-feet of tape and placed in a body belt with her ankles and thighs strapped together.

Adrienne Kambana, Jimmy Mubenga’s wife, and friends outside court following the unlawful killing verdict, holding messages from her children (© IRR News)

You may think that that was 1993, these things don’t happen now. But they do. Jimmy Mubenga’s horrific death, pleading for help as he was handcuffed, belted into his seat and pushed down, is a stark example of how deportations are routinely carried out in the UK. And by contracting out such state functions to private companies, the government seeks to absolve itself of responsibility.

The use of force during deportations is now commonplace, as are serious injuries sustained by asylum seekers and other deportees. The 2008Medical Justice report, Outsourcing Abuse, documented the numerous injuries sustained by asylum seekers in detention and during forcible deportations. G4S came out as the worst ‘offender’. With deportations now being driven by market forces, the imperatives of a contract take priority: a pay cheque is apparently more important that behaving humanely.

The deaths of Jimmy Mubenga and Joy Gardner were no aberrations. There have been 576 suspicious deaths of BME people in custody (police and prison) since 1990 many of which, according to IRR research, have  featured unreasonable levels of force and show evidence of a casual inhumanity.

Take the case of Christopher Alder, a Black former paratrooper, who died on the floor of Queen Street police station in Hull with his trousers around his ankles in 1993. An inquest jury also found in this case that he was unlawfully killed. Later, CCTV  footage emerged of Christopher dying on the station floor accompanied by a soundtrack of monkey noises. What happened to the officers involved in his death? Despite an unlawful killing verdict and a failed prosecution, four of the five officers retired, with pensions intact no doubt. Nothing was done about investigating those making racist monkey noises as  he expired.

Afro-Caribbean Brian Douglas died in 1995, after being struck over the head with a baton on a South London street. An inquest jury recorded a misadventure verdict. However, some years later in May 2006, one of the police officers who was involved his arrest was found guilty of using racially aggravated insulting words and behaviour in another case.

The murder of Zahid Mubarek, a young Muslim man from Walthamstow, in Feltham Young Offenders Institute in 2000 showed racism at work in a most obvious way. Guards placed Zahid in a cell with a known racist.  Just days before his release date, he was beaten about the head by his cellmate with a table leg. He died days later in hospital. In the subsequent official inquiry into the death, it emerged that guards placed certain prisoners together in order to provoke fights in a practice called ‘Gladiator Games’.

There is no doubt there is a culture of casual racism within institutions such as the police and prison service that allows its employees to be careless about the welfare of or ignore the distress of those in their care, particularly when they are from BME communities. However, there is also a more serious racism that is bred in these institutions, a systemic and systematic racism, which is built into their very structures. It allows individuals to act out their racisms and get away with it. For they are unaccountable.


Read an IRR News story: ‘Jimmy Mubenga: a day in the life of an inquest

Read the Guardian coverage on the inquest

Read a Guardian comment peice: ‘Jimmy Mubenga’s unlawful killing was a death waiting to happen

Watch the press conference following the unlawful killing verdict


Stop G4S

United Families and Friends Campaign

Day 2 & 3 @ Peace Camp!

Much work has gone into making these first three days of peace camp a success. Many deliberations — mental, physical and spiritual — have occurred as all participants interrogate, through performance, the very many layers that characterize “migration.”

More can be expected in the next few weeks as the many embodied privileges, power(s) and histories that are part of passing/migration/moving are explored.  Below are some pictures  from Day 2 & 3 of peace camp, which, in their youthful and powerful ways, indicate the hard work from participants that has gone into making it a success!

First day of Peace Camp: Pictures and Reflections

Today was the first day of Peace Camp and many “sharings” took place. Many paths, corporeal, cognitive and community were ventured! As well, questions such as ” What is a passage?” ” Where do you come from?” and  “Why is the world drawn the way it is?” were posed and explored by campers and artists guides alike!  Check out the gallery below to see what the day look liked.


“Passage: A moving Experience” @ The CPT Summer Peace Camp!

Ever heard of the Children’s Peace Theatre? If not you need to!


CPT Round Logo -Transparent - small

Children’s Peace Theatre is an award-winning community arts organization that offers numerous theatre and arts programs and projects for young people in the Taylor Massey (formerly Crescent Town) community, a designated priority neighbourhood in Toronto’s East End.

Under the guidance of Artistic Director Karen Emerson, Children’s Peace Theatre delivers our programs through carefully selected young professional artists each year who not only reflect the diversity of the children and youth we serve but also bring an exciting range of artistic talents including theatre, music, and visual arts. Programs include a three-week summer theatre camp, after-school programs, youth leadership projects, in-school workshops and youth-led initiatives.

This year for their Peace Camp program this summer they will be producing a play entitled Passage: A moving Experience. This year’ original show is an exploration on the theme of global migration, and the real life struggles and joys faced by immigrants and refugees living in Toronto told by children and youth.

Check out the media release for the play! CPT Media Release 2013


Gala Performance
Saturday, July 27, 2013
5 p.m. followed by a reception
$25 Adults $15 Students & Seniors $10 Children 13 and under

Thursday, July 25, 2013 & Friday, July 26, 2013
1:30 p.m.

Pay What You Can
305 Dawes Road, Toronto, ON M4B 2E2
(or at Harmony Hall at 2 Gower Street if weather does not permit an outdoor show)
For tickets, please contact:

Ahnaf Tahmid, Special Events Coordinator
Tel: 416-752-1550

Learning and Refugees: Recognizing the Darker Side of Transformative Learning

Linda Morrice

Adult Education Quarterly 2013 63: 251

Learning is generally viewed as a positive process bringing benefits to the individual, leading to growth and self-development. But is this always the case? This article draws on empirical research with refugees and considers the processes of transforming experience and learning that accompanies transition to life in the United Kingdom. I will argue for the importance of social context and nonformal learning, and suggest that models and theories based on transformative learning that ignore context provide only a partial and distorted picture of the learning and identity processes at work for this particular group of immigrants. There is a complexity and depth to the learning that they experience, which calls for an enlarged concept of learning and its potential outcomes.

refugees, transformative learning, immigration, identity, immigrant, Mezirow, learning




Portuguese migrants seek opportunities in Mozambique

Photo: Cordelia Persen/Flickr

Mozambique gained independence from Portugal in 1975, but is now attracting a new wave of Portuguese migrants

MAPUTO, 2 July 2013 (IRIN) – The financial crisis in Europe has brought the largest influx of Portuguese migrants to Mozambique since colonial times. While many Mozambicans fear they will face increased competition for scarce jobs, the new wave of migrants is also creating employment opportunities.

Goncalo Teles Gomes, the Portuguese consul in Maputo, the capital, estimates that 30,000 Portuguese now live in Mozambique, the majority of them in Maputo.

“It is not like it’s an avalanche or an invasion, as it is described sometimes in the media, but we have seen an increase in new registrations of between 30 and 35 percent since 2009,” he said. “One hundred forty new Portuguese migrants arrive every month in Mozambique to stay, but then there are also many Portuguese who fly in and out, working in different kinds of businesses.”

He added: “Twenty years ago, the Portuguese who came had a connection to Mozambique, but most people who arrive today don’t have any earlier connections.”

Mozambique’s recent resource boom and growing middle class have helped create more opportunities for newcomers from Portugal, many of them looking to escape their country’s shrinking economy and one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe. But the transition is not always an easy one.

“I always say to the ones who want to come that there are opportunities here, but this is not an El Dorado,” said Gomes. “Everybody is talking about the richness of resources, but there are a lot of challenges.”

Starting businesses

The majority of the migrants have high levels of education, but less qualified Portuguese are also arriving and opening shops and restaurants. Most are between 25 and 45 years old, and many come with their families.

“There are opportunities here, but this is not an El Dorado. Everybody is talking about the richness of resources, but there are a lot of challenges”

Joao Carlos Simoes and his wife moved to Maputo from Portugal two years ago. Their timber business had already been struggling before the financial crisis hit. When the situation became dire, they decided to try their luck elsewhere.

“We chose to move to Mozambique mainly because of the language and the cultural similarities,” Simoes told IRIN.

He and his wife opened a restaurant in Matola Rio, a middle-class suburb 20km outside Maputo’s city centre, which has been a popular residential area for Portuguese since colonial times. Most of the newer residents start construction firms or open restaurants.

“It looks a bit better today,” said Simoes, sitting at a table covered with his business’s accounting records. “In the beginning it was difficult – not just the business, also the relationship with the employees and the adaption to the country.”

Simoes now employs six Mozambicans. He says he has not felt any antagonism from locals.

Down the road, Victor Mazuze is sweeping the floor of his small take-away restaurant. “Many Portuguese come here and open restaurants, but some of them have already been forced to close down. They charge European prices, but they don’t cook as well as we do,” he said, laughing.

Complementing or competing?

Mozambican labour law stipulates that foreigners can make up no more than 5 percent of the workforce in large companies, and 8 to 10 percent in smaller firms, whether they are locally or foreign-owned. Most Portuguese companies employ dozens of Mozambicans compared to a handful of Portuguese, who usually work in areas in which many Mozambicans lack skills. Gomes noted that they often confer those skills to their Mozambican colleagues.

Sociologist Eugénio Brás, from the University of Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo, says the Portuguese migrants bring a number of benefits. “The Portuguese don’t come empty-handed. They come with money to invest and knowledge to use and share,” he said.

“Many come to start their own businesses, or to enter into businesses opened by other foreigners; others come to start working in positions that need a certain level of qualification that is not easily found among Mozambicans.”

But Adriana Sérgio Maembo, a first-year environmental education student, also at the University of Eduardo Mondlane, is not convinced that the new wave of Portuguese migrants do not pose a threat to her chances of finding a job when she graduates.

“In general, it is very difficult to get a job here in Mozambique, even for those who have studied,” she said. “Portuguese who come with a little money invest in different businesses here. It is more difficult for us; we have many good business ideas, but there is a lack of money for investments.”

Government policies key

History has shown that migration generally benefits development in host countries. Brás pointed to Brazil and the US as examples of countries whose economies have grown with the help of skilled immigrants, but added that the potentially positive effects of migration are dependent on government policies.

The majority of Portuguese and other migrants settle in cities where nearly 50 percent of households continue to live below the poverty line, according to a 2012 study by the World Bank.

If poverty in urban areas continues to remain high, said Brás, tensions between locals and foreigners could become more serious.

“If the next government does not give better answers to the introduction on the labour market of the young Mozambicans who are educated today, if they don’t reduce urban poverty, if they let the gap between rich and poor rise, we will have much more debates about immigration in Mozambique in the future,” he told IRIN.

IRIN July 2013

Immigration ruling and the impact on same-sex marriage

Gay-marriage ruling will help bi-national couples here, but may also bring some home.

LA Times Online reported that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) lamented over his withdrawal of a green-card allowance amendment for non-resident partners in same-sex marriages. He clarified that it was a sacrifice that needed to be made in order to prevent Republican undoing of the entire bill.

However, it turns out Sen. Leahy’s distress about his participation in that motion was needless. As explained in the LA Times piece, “that provision is unnecessary in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that denied same-sex couples a range of federal benefits and protections.”

The advantage for bi-national, same-sex married couples comes in the form of the ability to request citizenship documentation, such as green cards, for the non-resident spouse. In addition, immigrants who are awaiting deportation as the consequence of a law action may have that order overturned by a judge who deems that action may lead to “exceptional hardship to their same-sex citizen spouse.”

According to a story on, “About 32,000 same-sex couples in the United States have one partner who is an American citizen and another from a foreign country, said Gary Gates, a demographer at the University of California, Los Angeles Law School’s Williams Institute. It isn’t clear how many of those couples are married or how many might seek immigration benefits.”

Although this Supreme Court decision is a boon for many couples and proponents of immigrant rights, there is one last step to be taken; the Department of Homeland Security must add its stamp of approval and designate policy on appeals on deportation rulings.
When two nation-stirring causes meet at such a crossroads, it is an opportunity for the examination of citizen rights as a whole, not just for target groups and demographics. Bearing the spirit of citizen rights in mind, the Supreme Court ruling may be upheld with support from decision-makers at Homeland Security. It should be remembered that, at the crux of this story, the resolution was passed down in efforts to support equality for same-sex couples and to ensure that they are provided the same federal and legal rights.

It’s not only U.S.-based couples that will feel the impact. There is speculation that bi-national pairs that moved abroad because of the previous state of affairs may return to live at home. Martha McDevitt-Pugh, who founded the group Love Exiles for gay and lesbian couples, told the Associated Press that “she hopes she’ll soon be able to return to Northern California to be closer to her ailing 84-year-old mother. McDevitt-Pugh married her wife, Lin, 12 years ago in the Netherlands, knowing they couldn’t live together in the United States at the time.”

As we move through immigration and gay-rights reform, we can see lines blurring. However, as things come into sharper focus, it’s apparent- these ground-breaking reforms are letting Americans be Americans.

Hernandez, Sandra. July 3, 2013. Same-sex marriage ruling impacts immigration law too.
Preston, Julia. June 27, 2013. For gay immigrants, marriage ruling brings a path to a green card.
The Associated Press. June 28, 2013. Ruling a boon for gay couples with foreign spouse.