[Marxism] redux: Bring Wendy Maxwell Back Home!

kersplebedeb info at kersplebedeb.com
Thu Mar 24 09:04:03 MST 2005

i apologize for sending this twice, if you have already received it, but 
it has not shown up in my inbox so i am assuming that it got lost in 
cyberspace when i sent it to the Marxism list last night:



On March 5th community activist Wendy Maxwell, aka Nzinga, was arrested 
by Toronto cops while selling cookies at an International Women's Day event.

What was her crime? Being a queer Black "non-status" immigrant from 
Costa Rica; being a woman who could and would stand up for herself and 

Maxwell originally came to Canada in 1997, thinking she had made 
arrangements to work as a bartender. When she arrived she found she was 
in fact expected to work as an exotic dancer. Until 1997 "exotic dancer" 
was a special category under which Immigration Canada allowed women to 
work in Canada. This arrangement made it particularly difficult for 
immigrant women to leave the industry, or defend their rights.

Nevertheless, after 18 months Maxwell managed to leave her job, and 
applied for refugee status. As a Black queer woman who had previously 
had run-ins with a gang and with the police in her native Costa Rica, 
Maxwell feared for her safety were she to return to her country of 
birth. This was not a decision she took lightly, as she has childen in 
Costa Rica, and staying in Canada meant being separated from them.

In December 2003 Maxwell's claim for refugee status was denied, and an 
order was issued for her deportation. Although she applied for leave to 
stay in Canada under humanitarian and compassionate grounds in January 
2004, she also decided to go underground rather than return to Costa 
Rica while awaiting the government's decision.

During this time Maxwell also organized with others to fight against the 
oppression Canadian society rains down on queers, immigrants, women, sex 
trade workers and people of colour. She worked at CKLN 88.1 FM Community 
Radio, the Latin American Coalition to end Violence Against Women, the 
Barbara Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, the Ralph Thornton Community 
Centre as a network administrator's assistant, the Global African 
Congress, and as an outreach worker with the Black Coalition for Aids 
Prevention (BlackCAP). Her work is also being published in "A New Look 
at Heterosexism and Homophobia" being put out in collaboration with the 
McGill University for the Canadian Aids Society.

She also took on the name Nzinga, after the seventeenth century Queen of 
Angola who waged war against the Portuguese invaders. Two of Queen 
Nzinga's war leaders were her sisters, and any women were active in her 
army and in her council of advisors. It is not difficult to imagine why 
a woman like Maxwell, persecuted by the Canadian settler state, would 
take the name of a woman like Nzinga...

On March 14th, at 9 am, less than two weeks after her arrest at the 
International Women's Day event, Nzinga was deported. Authorities 
refused to disclose flight details, keeping Nzinga, her counsel and 
friends in the dark until the last moment. However, Nzinga was able to 
place a brief call out from the airplane to her lawyer. A vigil took 
place at Pearson Airport, at which friends and supporters read Wendy's 
poetry and spoke out, leafleting passengers and standing together in 
this difficult time.

Wendy Maxwell, aka Nzinga, is now back in Costa Rica, but the fight has 
only begun. Supporters are rallying throughout Canada to pressure the 
government to ensure that her case be assessed quickly and that she be 
granted permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. 
It is also imperative that the racist Canadian State that had the gall 
to deport her be held accountable and responsible for her safe and 
speedy return.

What can you do to help?

1) Sign the Online Petition at 

2) Join the Support Wendy Maxwell mailing list by going here: 

3) Telephone and/or fax Canada's Minister of Immigration Joe Volpe. 
Demand that Wendy Maxwell be granted permanent residency on Humanitarian 
and Compassionate grounds:


You can also email Minister Joe Volpe at Minister at cic.gc.ca

Let the Minister know that we know that, as a queer Black working class 
woman, Maxwell faces the risk of violence and persecution from numerous 
quarters in Costa Rica. According to the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre she 
is still suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of 
being sexually assaulted by the cops there before she first came to 
Canada. Canada is Wendy Maxwell's home now, and Canada is where she belongs.

Even if you are not a Canadian or do not live in Canada, please contact 
Joe Volpe at the above phone and/or fax numbers. It doesn't matter if 
you live in Canada, the United States, or anywhere else. Pressure, both 
national and international, can make a difference.

You can download a low-resolution (69K) PDF flyer with these phone 
numbers by clicking here: 

4) Money. Nobody has any and everybody always needs some, but if there 
is any chance of people forking over a little cash, or hitting up any 
organizations you may be involved with, or quickly organizing a house 
party with a donation can, money is desperately needed. Depending on how 
things go, Wendy may even be billed by the Canadian government for the 
costs associated with her deportation, and this even if she is granted 
permanent residency!

Donations, of whatever size, can be sent to:

No One Is Illegal
POB 1102
50 Charles St.
Toronto, ON
M4Y 1T1

Please make checks or money orders payable to "No One Is Illegal" and 
write on them that they should go to the "Support Wendy Maxwell" campaign.

5) Finally, you can stay up to date with what is happening at a number 
of different websites. If you have a website yourself, please consider 
adding a link:

Support Wendy Maxwell website at http://www.supportwendy.com

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty's Free Wendy Maxwell page at 

Also, you may want to check out Nzinga's own website, put up and 
maintained before her arrest:

Harambee website at http://www.geocities.com/wendypme/

And lastly, my own Kersplebedeb website now has a section devoted to 
Nzinga's fight to live in Canada. It includes several articles from 
Toronto newspapers about Wendy's case, as well as an mp3 telephone call 
from Wendy when she was being held at the Vanier "Women's Centre" (i.e. 
jail), in which she discusses how she was arrested and treated while in 
This and more at http://www.kersplebedeb.com/nzinga

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