This interview is on Intercede (est. 1979), an advocacy group composed of foreign domestic workers and their feminist allies. Intercede raised awareness about the exploitation of migrant domestic workers and lobbied for legislative changes that would enable them to remain in Canada permanently. The interview features four Intercede activists and staff members originally from the Philippines. It discusses the “moment” of the 1981 national campaign that pressured the federal government into creating a pathway to landed immigrant status, and, eventually, citizenship, for thousands of foreign domestic workers. The discussion of strategies and of the interactions and relationships forged between feminist activists and domestic workers highlights Toronto, but developments in Vancouver and Toronto-Vancouver networks are also addressed. There is pointed criticism of the pathways approach. The labour and human-rights-based arguments informing the current Status for All campaign are enunciated. The interview captures the wider political context in which the activists featured — who were active in the anti-Marcos dictatorship and other international liberation movements and in the women’s and peace movements — became involved in Intercede. A discussion of the advocacy work that continues to this day challenges simple distinctions between activism and advocacy and stresses instead the symbiotic relationship between the two types of activism.
With Martha Ocampo, Cenen Bagon, Anita Fortuno, Genie Policarpio
Interviewed by Franca Iacovetta
This project has been made possible in part by Library and Archives Canada’s Documentary Heritage Communities Program.