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Sanctuary City Organizing in Canada

From Hospitality to Solidarity

David Moffette and Jennifer Ridgley

In recent years, migrant justice organizers in Canada have developed campaigns aimed at building, legislating, and enforcing municipal commitments to alleviating and resisting the harms done by federal immigration enforcement, and ensuring migrant access to municipal services. As a result of these efforts, some cities, including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Hamilton, have declared themselves “sanctuary cities,” and campaigns centered around this concept have emerged in other localities across the country. In this article, the authors—who are themselves involved in sanctuary city organizing—reflect on the concept, and offer a critical assessment of these organizing efforts. We provide a brief history of these campaigns in Canada, discuss the impact of these policies in cities where they have been adopted, reflect on the types of politics that inform notions of sanctuary, hospitality, solidarity, and resistance, and offer some lessons for moving forward.