Acclaimed Canadian documentary photographer and social activist Vincenzo Pietropaolo has been photographing migrant farm workers and recording their stories since 1984 – in the process travelling to 40 locations throughout Ontario and to their homes in Mexico, Jamaica, and Montserrat.
His new book, Harvest Pilgrims, gathers those photos and words in a compelling testament to the tens of thousands of migrant workers who are the backbone of Canada’s agriculture industry, yet continue to be denied many of the basic workplace rights that protect other workers.
The publication of Harvest Pilgrims was made possible by a grant from UFCW Canada.
The book recently received its official launch at an event hosted by UFCW Canada at the Workers Arts & Heritage Centre in Hamilton, Ont., where an exhibition of the original photos is taking place through to the end of the year.
“They are essential workers who, at great sacrifice to themselves and their families, put food on our table – yet most Canadians don’t even know they exist,” Pietropaolo says.
“That is starting to change, in large part because of the long-standing efforts of UFCW Canada to stand up for these workers, to fight for their constitutional right to bargain collectively, and to give them a voice.
“Thanks to the support of UFCW Canada, Harvest Pilgrims is now part of that effort to make Canadians aware of the sacrifices and the injustices many of these workers face.
For a video preview of the new book, UFCW Canada has also produced a
mini-documentary, Vincenzo Pietropaolo – witness to the Harvest Pilgrims.
The 10-minute short film has also been selected for screening at the upcoming Canadian Labour International Film Festival (CLiFF) in November.