Guelph hosts vigil to honour 11 victims of migrant worker van tragedy

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On Monday, February 6th, a van carrying 13 Peruvian farm workers as well as one farm worker from Nicaragua collided with a transport truck in Hampstead, outside Waterloo, Ontario. *Eleven lives were lost, including 11 migrant farm workers and the driver of the truck.

Dozens of supporters paid their respects to the victims of the crash at the two vigils that took place in Guelph, Ontario on Monday, February 13th: one at the University of Guelph, the second at St. George's Square. The speakers made connections between violence against racialized immigrants from economically poor countries, the Canadian immigration system, and the subordination of racialized working-poor migrants. Alicja Grzadkowska interviewed the organizers of the vigils, an all-volunteer migrant worker advocacy group in Guelph called Fuerza/Puwersa, as well as speakers from the event:

Pablo Godoy, National representative of United Food & Commercial Worker Canada

Kerry Preibisch, Associate professor at the University of Guelph in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology (specializing in international labour migration, global agro-food systems, and temporary migration programs)

Eduardo Huesca, Fuerza/Puwersa

MaryCarl Guiao, Fuerza/Puwersa

*Nine of the 10 migrant farm workers were from Peru. Their names are: Cesar Augusto Sanchez-Palacios, 53, Corsino Jaramillo, 47, Jose Mercedes Valdiviezo-Taboa, 49, Fernando Valdiviezo, 24, David Blancas, Enrique Arturo Leon, 47, Lizardo Mario Abril, 48, Oscar Walter Compomanes Corzo, and Elvio Bravo-Suncion. The 10th worker killed was Juan Castillo of Nicaragua. Christopher Fulton, 38, of London, Ont., was the driver of truck in the crash.  

Three other Peruvian migrant workers were injured in the crash. Abelardo Javier Alba Medina, 38, and Juan Jose Ariza, 35, both of whom suffered broken ribs in the crash, are being treated at Stratford General Hospital. Edgar Sulla Puma, 26, remains in critical condition at Hamilton General Hospital.

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The image above is of the screen print by Pete Yahnke Railand with the Just Seeds Artists' Collective, titled "Study."


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