Jamaican-born athlete begs to come home

Former Argonaut Andrew Stewart with wife Sharon seen in happier days with their children. By Gerald V. Paul
Former Argonaut Andrew Stewart with wife Sharon seen in happier days with their children.
By Gerald V. Paul

As thousands of refugees reach Canada’s shores, a Jamaican-born man is begging Canada to help him return here.

“If I don’t get home, I’m going to die,” said former Toronto Argonaut Andrew Stewart who is fighting to return to Canada for life-saving treatment.

Stewart who has been told he has three to five months to live without treatment for his cancer was deported to his native Jamaica due to crime. He said Jamaica cannot provide the right treatment for him.

His permanent residence status was revoked because he was indicted for fraud in the U.S. in 1998 and charged with credit fraud in Canada in 2002. He eventually surrendered to U.S. officials and was sentenced to two years in 2005, serving 18 months in jail.

On the Canadian charges he was given a conditional sentence of two years less a day and three years probation. The condition of his probation included 150 hours of community service, six months of house arrest and regular attendance at Gamblers Anonymous meetings.

He was deported in 2009 to Jamaica.

Stewart said should be allowed to return to Canada because he has put his past behind him, served his time and made financial restitution. He is seeking to return on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

As a CFL player he helped the Argos win back-to-back Grey Cups in 1996 and 1997 as a speedy defensive lineman, and played for other CFL and NFL teams.

Stewart, who is also suffering from Parkinson’s disease, has no job and no family in Jamaica. His wife and two daughters live in Surrey, BC.

In the original spousal application filed in 2013, Sharon Stewart asked Ottawa to allow her husband to come home for humanitarian reasons because she needed help with their youngest daughter, who has serious developmental and learning problems.

She also applied for special authorization from the government that would allow him to return. But three years later she is still waiting to hear if her husband can return.

Her husband said, “For me, it’s my family. Sharon and the girls, we have been a long time – married almost 20 years. I love Canada, lived there for 35 years. It’s a great country. My family is there.

“Now, the other reason is my life. Please help me save my life.”