Montreal children make postcards to raise funds for kids detained at U.S-Mexico border

Montreal children make postcards to raise funds for kids detained at U.S-Mexico border

On the afternoon of Quebec's Fête nationale, a group of kids got political in Laurier Park, but not for their province.

They were drawing postcards to send to officials in the United States, protesting families being separated at the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

"It's important to speak up, to get together and refuse injustice," said Estelle Grandbois-Bernard, one of the event's organizers.

The Montreal event was organized based on an online campaign started by mostly U.S.-based moms on Facebook. 

Karen Ross is one of the creators of #postcards4families and lives outside of Boston.

She said about 25 women from the Facebook group made pledges to The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), located in Texas, to help separated families — and they wanted to get kids involved.

Networking, raising money, engaging kids

The group came up with the idea that for every postcard a child made and shared publicly on social media with the hashtag #postcards4families, the group of mothers would donate $5 to RAICES.

They committed money to the pool that would be drawn from for each postcard shared on social media, and they secured more pledges from people in their network.

They raised about $10,000 US to go directly to RAICES and about $8,000 US more to fund the postcard campaign and match independent donations.

The Montreal connection

Despite the fact that most of the fundraising is taking place in the U.S., members of the Facebook group in Montreal decided to host Sunday's Laurier Park event.

Fannie Dionne and her children stopped by to makes some postcards.

"I have two children and when I saw the images of children separated from their families it literally made me cry," Dionne said.

U.S. President Donald Trump had insisted, wrongly, that his administration had no choice but to separate families apprehended at the border because of federal law and a court decision.

He then abruptly reversed himself last Wednesday and signed an executive order halting his administration's policy of separating children from their parents when they are detained illegally crossing the U.S. border.

At least for the next few weeks, it would keep families together while they are in custody, expedite their cases and ask the Defence Department to help house them.

It doesn't change anything yet for the some 2,300 children taken from their families since the policy was put into place.

Ross said one of the main aims of the postcards is to pressure U.S. government officials to reunite these separated children with their families. 

"We're not naive, we don't think that postcards will change [Trump's] mind, but we have to do something," Grandbois-Bernard said.

Ross said that about 850 postcards had been tagged on social media by Sunday afternoon.

The campaign officially ends Sunday night but she hopes the card writing will continue and other people will start campaigns of their own.