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.
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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