Through her work at the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), Sonia Aviles helps seasonal workers in Ontario’s Niagara region navigate the perils of foreign employment—which became even more perilous in 2020 as COVID-19 tore through worker camps, infecting at least 1,300 and killing three. To support them, Aviles ran a Spanish-language hotline for workers to confidentially share concerns about workplace conditions.
What she’s proudest of this year
“Seeing people like Luis Gabriel Flores Flores [who filed a complaint to the Ontario Labour Relations Board alleging he was fired from a Norfolk County, Ont. farm for speaking out about dangerous conditions during the pandemic—and won] and Blanca Islas Perez [a migrant worker whose husband, also a migrant worker, died after being employed by a Canadian farm] speaking fiercely has been a highlight. They have been suffering these conditions for so many years, and many are now saying, This is enough. We need to speak up. This is the time. I’m proud to highlight the injustices that migrant workers face in our food industry, the need for workers to access permanent resident status as the only solution to these injustices and also to open the eyes of Canadians who were not aware of things like this occurring in this country.”