Open letter from artists and cultural producers: End the 'Border Security' TV series

Over the past month 22,000 people have signed a petition to National Geographic Channel, Shaw Media, and Force Four Entertainment to cancel the TV show Border Security. This TV show spurred public outrage when it was revealed that, embedded with Canadian Border Services Agency agents, TV crews filmed a workplace immigration raid and migrant detentions.

Migrant justice groups along with Amnesty International, B.C. Civil Liberties Association, LeadNow, and the Council of Canadians have all spoken out against this TV show and the support it is receiving from the federal government. 

Now, the campaign to cancel Border Security has received the support of prominent actors and cultural producers.

*

To Force Four Entertainment, Shaw Media, Global BC, National Geographic, Canadian Border Services Agency, and all other producers, financiers, and broadcasters of Border Security: Canada's Front Line.

 We are actors, performers, producers, directors, technicians and a wide variety of cultural professionals who work across media platforms that include film, TV, and live performance.

On March 13, 2013 a film crew from Vancouver-based company Force Four Entertainment was embedded with Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) agents during a raid at a construction site. They filmed eight workers being arrested and jailed in a humiliating spectacle. The footage was shot as part of an ongoing television series Border Security: Canada's Front Line. 

Several of the men arrested have since been deported, and their families have been torn apart.

We write this letter out of serious concern for those already affected and those who may be harmed by future episodes of this show. Border Security makes no effort to show the lived realities or perspectives of those featured in the show. Rather, it packages and sells entertainment made from genuine human crisis and humiliation, particularly of those who are vulnerable migrants and refugees. This show is based on sensationalizing their stories and spreading fear.

At best, this TV show is an invasion of privacy with questionable ethics on informed consent. At worst, it can put the lives of vulnerable migrants and their families at risk by commercially exploiting their stories for broadcast. As Amnesty International notes, "Amnesty International believes that filming and broadcasting these raids has jeopardized the basic rights of these undocumented workers, as protected under the international conventions that Canada has ratified."

This comes at a time when there is little quality television that deals with the real-life pressures that force people to migrate. We also find it extremely troubling that the federal government has approved of and dedicates resources to this production. This is not the Canadian entertainment or cultural production that so many are proud to call their own.

We are calling on Force Four, CBSA, Shaw Media and Global TV to end production of Border Security, and all associated partners to withdraw their support for the show. Deportation is not entertainment. We seek to uphold legally-affirmed human rights and respect for basic human dignity. Please join us in our efforts towards being conscious and ethical cultural producers.

 

Sincerely,

Khalilah Alwani, Performance Artist

Annie Banks, Print Maker and Cultural Worker

Samuel Pruneau Beaudry, Composer and Performance Artist

Hauke Boettcher, Independent Filmmaker and Editor

Sam Bradd, Artist and Cultural Producer

Diego Briceño, Independent Media Maker

Zain Burgess, Multimedia Artist

Angelina Cantada, Photographer and Filmmaker

Nicola Cavendish, Actor and Playwright

Patricia Chica, Filmmaker and TV Content Producer

Stéfanie Clermont, Documentary Filmmaker

Martina Comstock, Writer and Director

Andrea Curtis, Producer

Amber Dawn, Film Festival Programmer and Author

Deborah de Boer, Writer and Curator

Ruby Smith Díaz, Filmmaker

Farzana Doctor, Coproducer and Author

Jadis Dumas, Documentary Filmmaker

David Emanuel, Actor and Director

David William Murray Fisher, Actor and Writer

Jesse Freeston, Independent Filmmaker and Journalist

Julien Fréchette, Director

David-James Fernandes, Filmmaker

Amy Fox, Producer, Trembling Void Studios

Richard Fung, Video artist and Filmmaker

​Damien Gillis, Documentary Filmmaker

Gordon Grdina, Musician and Composer

Malcolm Guy, Director and Producer

Deblekha Guin, Film Producer and Artistic Director

Freda Guttman, Multimedia Artist

Callista Haggis, Documentary filmmaker

Christopher Heffley, Creative Director

Glenn Hodgins, Filmmaker

Audrey Huntley, Independent Documentary Filmmaker

Troy Jackson, Singer and Producer

Reg Johanson, Poet

Rosina Kazi, Singer and Producer

Ali Kazimi, Filmmaker

Sara Kendall, Performance Artist and Filmmaker

Noura Kevorkian, Filmmaker

Arshad Khan, Filmmaker

Sarah Khan, Professional Writer

David Khang, Artist and Art Educator

Margo Kidder, Actor

Lois Klassen, Artist and Research Ethics Professional

Bonnie Klein, O.C. (Order of Canada), Filmmaker

Naomi Klein, Filmmaker and Writer

Erica Køhn, Artistic Director and Filmmaker

Zoe Kreye, Artist and Professor

Min Sook Lee, Filmmaker

Diana Leung, Filmmaker and Cultural Planner

Avi Lewis, Documentary Filmmaker and TV Host

Franklin López, Media Saboteur

Jessica MacCormack, Artist and Professor

Laurie MacMillan, Documentary Filmmaker

Alex Mah, Filmmaker

David Maidman, Community Television producer

Marc-André Manseau, Producer and Director

Richard Marcuse, former Western Representative for Canadian Actors Equity Association

Lindsay Miles, Facilitator and Writer

Amy Miller, Director and Producer

Elizabeth Miller, Documentary Filmmaker and Professor

Jan Nathanson, Producer

Cecily Nicholson, Artist and Arts Administrator

Isaac Oomen, Filmmaker and Journalist

Christina Panis, Arts Administrator

Shauna Paull, Poet and Teacher

Nicholas Perrin, Writer and Artist

Summer Pervez, Filmmaker and Professor

Helgi Piccinin, Documentary Filmmaker

Imtiaz Popat, Producer, Monkeyking Motion Pictures

Ian Iqbal Rashid, Filmmaker and Screenwriter

Rhona Raskin, Production Company Owner and Radio Producer

Vanessa Richards, Artist and Cultural Worker

Velcrow Ripper, Filmmaker

Ally Robertson, Multimedia Artist

Emilio Rojas, Filmmaker and Performance Artist

Javier Romero, Editor and Cultural Promoter

Tom Sandborn, Writer

Igor Santizo, Artist and Teacher

Regine Schmid, Producer

John Sharkey, Videographer and Programmer

Rupinder Singh Sidhu, Composer and Producer

Adrian A. Stimson, Curator and a former Canadian Immigration Officer

Jordan Strom, Visual Art Curator

Sid Tan, Media Producer

Jeremy Todd, Interdisciplinary Artist and Educator

Geneviève Trudel, Art Historian

Kim Villagante, Multimedia Artist and Singer-Songwriter

Mark Vonesch, Director of Reel Youth

Tamara Vukov, Filmmaker and Educator

Harsha Walia, Independent Filmmaker and Writer

Shannon Walsh, Director and Writer

Maggie Wheeler, Actor

D Lee Williams, Filmmaker and Artist

Sandy Wilson, Film Director and Screenwriter

Rita Wong, Writer

Don Xaliman, Technical Director

b.h Yael, Filmmaker and Professor

​Marcus Youssef, Actor and Playwright

Alejandro Zuluaga, Documentary Filmmaker

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