Amy Cohen and Elise Hahn founded the group RAMA ( Redde Apoyo Para Migrantes Agricolas , or Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture ) in March of 2013.
Cohen was involved in community service work with migrant workers along with her husband (who is of Mexican descent) prior to that.
She described RAMA’s actions as “broadly ranging.”
“Migrant workers’ situations are precarious,” she said, “they are kept that way on purpose.”
RAMA works to break down the segregation barriers and fight for workers social and legal rights in Canada.
Cohen said RAMA works to build relationships, meeting with Mexican workers and playing roles in crisis intervention, providing translation services, emergency room visits to injured workers and advocating on their behalf. RAMA also works to lobby government for changes to the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program. The pair also organize English classes on farms.
“The key aspect is to break down barriers,” Cohen said.
“Workers are very aware of the consequences of speaking up for their rights,” said Cohen, “they are terrified of not being invited back. We work to preserve their positions and jobs in the program.
As far as Cohern is aware, there are no surprise inspections of facilities by any authority in B.C.
RAMA is a part time effort for Cohen and Hahn, as Cohen teaches at Okanagan College and Hahn attends as a student. RAMA is represented most strongly in the North and Central Okanagan, where the two reside, but they are working to extend their presence into the South Okanagan and Similkameen.