Transnational Solidarity: A Panel Discussion on International Student Workers



Please join us for a discussion on the position of international students in the Canadian higher education system

Place: McMaster University, Chester New Hall 106
Date: March 22nd, 2024
Time: 6:00-8:00PM


Event description:

This 2-hour hybrid conversation with experts, activists, and experienced scholars will offer a vision of the issues and conditions that international students face as workers and intellectuals while participating in the Canadian higher education system. The purpose of this panel is to reflect on ways to connect the struggles of international students as individuals and communities to the struggles for fair wages for all workers, both inside and outside of the university. In this discussion, we encourage everyone to orient political organizing and actions towards ameliorating the negative consequences of the neglect which international students face, affecting their ability to study while also compromising their mental and physical health and their financial well-being.

The panel will explore these questions:

  • What are international students gaining from their education and degrees at so-called prestigious Canadian institutions, like McMaster University?
  • How can we understand Canadian higher education’s interest and use of international students that simultaneously neglects to support their educational and working conditions?
  • In a context where people are atomized into ephemeral and fragmented lives – like immigrants, students, and intellectual workers – how can we understand our rights, strengths, and vulnerabilities better and build solidarities with each other?
  • How can we create collective organizing efforts amongst domestic and international students and workers that are not mediated by Canadian universities’ institutional frameworks but rather centered on solidarity frameworks conducive to organization, mutual aid, and care?
  • What, precisely, can unions and community groups in Canada do to support international students?



Andrew Koltun, Immigration Lawyer, Koltun Law, Hamilton-Niagara region

Kaho Nishibu, International Student Steward at CUPE 4207, CUPE Ontario International Solidarity Committee elected member

Sarom Rho, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, Migrant Students United, and Gig Workers United

Vedanth Govi, Department of Anthropology, York University, York Center for Asian Research, Center for Black, Brown and Queer Studies in Baltimore

Moderator: Alejandro Franco Briones, international student and worker, McMaster University, Department of Communication Studies and Media Arts

— Participants bios:

Andrew Koltun (Principal Lawyer at Koltun Law) is a practising immigration and refugee lawyer based in the Hamilton-Niagara region. Andrew is a strong believer in open borders for all. Andrew’s immigration practice focuses on files at the intersection of immigration, mental health and IRCC’s use of artificial intelligence to render decisions. He is currently co-counsel on a constitutional challenge to the PGWP eligibility requirements for discrimination against international students with health disabilities that preclude full-time studies. Andrew has appeared in immigration stories in the Canadian media. He has also testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. Andrew can be reached at

Kaho Nishibu (she/her) is the International Student Steward at CUPE 4207 and an elected member on the CUPE Ontario International Solidarity Committee. Originally from Japan, she has completed her undergraduate and Master’s degrees at Brock University, and now works as a Teaching Assistant at Brock, in addition to working in a non-profit immigration service sector. She is also involved in social and environmental justice organizing locally, as well as the animal justice movement in Asia.

Sarom Rho is an organizer with Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), a workers’ organization with a membership of migrants in farm work, care work and all low-waged work, which includes international students, refugees, and undocumented people. MWAC is a membership-based, migrant-led organization that supports migrants across Canada to access basic rights and services. We support the formation of self-organized migrants at workplaces, communities and schools, in-person and online. At MWAC, Sarom coordinates and organizes with Migrant Students United, a group of current and former international students who are coming together across the country to fight for justice and permanent resident status for all.

Vedanth Govi is a P.h.D. Candidate at the Department of Anthropology, York University. They are a Graduate Research Associate at the York Center for Asian Research (YCAR) and hold a fellowship from the Center for Black, Brown and Queer Studies in Baltimore, USA. They are interested in tracing how international South Asians students exist within the larger infrastructures of internationalisation and Canadian higher education. They recently got published in TOPIA, the Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies.

Alejandro (he/him) is an international student from Mexico currently pursuing a PhD in Communications, Cultural Studies, and New Media at McMaster University. He is a steward for CUPE 3906 and a sound artist and musician from Mexico City. He teaches digital audio and communications, and his research involves networked music interfaces mediated by feminist, anti-fascist, Marxist, and anti-colonial frameworks.

This event will be hybrid, offered in-person as well as streamed online. Please register for the event on Zoom, to let us know if you’ll be attending:

Designed by Cyril Chen (they/them) @cyberspacevoid

For more info, contact: