Meet Gabriel Allahdua, the University of Guelph’s first activist-in-residence

The University of Guelph hosted its first ever activist-in-residence.

Gabriel Allahdua started the new role in September. He has a long history of defending the rights of migrant workers and has direct experience himself as a former migrant worker.

The Activist-in-Residence position is new to the school and one of a handful of similar programs across Canada, which aim to blend academia and activism.

Allahdua said when the university offered him the one-year position and he was delighted to accept it.

« I always wanted to come to university. It was a huge challenge that I always look forward to because now I’m in the heart of agriculture, » he said. « That’s how I really, really want to make an impact. I’m so happy when I look back at my past. It prepared me for this challenge. »

He said that through his work with the university, he would continue to focus on agricultural activism.

Former temporary foreign worker Gabriel Allahdua marches at a rally in support of migrant workers’ rights in Ottawa in October 2016. (Submitted by Justice for Migrant Workers)

« In a nutshell, the food you eat, the food we eat, it could be the safest form of our medicine, or it could be the slowest form of our poison, » Allahdua said. « At university, I will be in contact with students, I will connect researchers with activists in the field. I will participate in presentations in class… highlighting the injustices that migrant workers face. »

Allahdua’s new role is based at the Grounded and Engagement Theory Lab (GET Lab) in the university’s college of the arts.

Go to the next level

Monique Deveaux, one of the co-founders of GET Lab, said they hoped this new role would help Allahdua take her activism to the next level.

“He has already contacted a number of professors and administrators at the University of Guelph who wanted to meet with him,” she said.

“We envision him giving talks to agriculture students, like future farmers or people working in agriculture. It’s really profound for them to be about to talk to a former migrant worker who can talk directly about these issues. »

Deveaux said Allahdua is also expected to give a field course this summer.

« He can bring them to sites where activists gather or other meetings outside the worksites, where [migrant] workers are coming together,” she said. « It’s going to be a pretty cool class! »

In the future, Deveaux said, they hope to recruit more activists who could specialize in other types of social justice issues.

Allahdua will be the University of Guelph’s Activist-in-Residence until the end of August 2023.


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