By Sukhram Ramkissoon
A 34-year-old Jamaican citizen has her “best Christmas gift”, victory on her recent application to remain in Canada under humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
She came to Canada in July 2006 as a visitor and after several unsuccessful applications to remain in Canada she was finally approved.
I will refer to her as Sharon, a university graduate who came to Canada for medical attention on a visitor’s visa. She applied to have her status renewed and in 2008 through previous counsel submitted a humanitarian and compassionate application which was refused in 2011, at which time they asked her to leave Canada.
She contacted our office and indicated she fears returning to her country based on her sexual orientation. She subsequently filed a claim for refugee protection in Canada but this was rejected due to the extensive issue of delay in pursuing her claim. She then filed an applicaton for judicial review which was also dismissed.
In 2013 my firm submitted a second humanitarian and compassionate application based on new evidence due to her medical condition, establishment, sexual orientation and hardship she will face if she is forced to return to her native country.
Several of these factors were not mentioned in her first application for permanent residence by the previous counsel.
She has been legally employed as a sales representative for several years and earns approximately $40,000 per annum. She is single with no dependents, no criminal record and has never collected social assistance.
She has no very close relatives in Canada other than her aunt who shares a familial relationship with the applicant. Through her earnings she is able to meet all her medical demands and other living expenses.
A number of affiants provided supporting letters. One from her pastor stated he has great concerns for Sharon’s safety if she is required to leave. She is also receiving counselling from a phycologist and is very fearful for life if she is required to return to her homophobic country, Jamaica.
She presented several letters from colleagues attesting to her strong character, contributions to her local community and being a tremendous asset to Canada. She is also involved in the LGBT community as part of the 519 Church Street Community Centre.
She is a well-educated person who worked as a teacher in her country. Her first language is English and she speaks, reads, understands and writes English fluently.
In our submissions we also stated that we strongly believe Sharon would suffer enormous hardships and acts of mistreatment if she was forced to return to Jamaica as she would experience discrimination due to her sexual orientation.
Daily hardships will occur such as obtaining employment, finding an apartment, going to the grocery store, waiting on a taxi or bus, as she would suffer ridicule, discrimination etc. as gays and lesbians are not accepted in Jamaica. It is known that persons perceived to be gay or lesbian are attacked, beaten or even killed. Her livelihood and future is based directly on this decision, counsel submitted.
Sharon also submitted several medical reports concerning her particular sickness and her ongoing treatment in Canada, one doctor stating that her disease is fairly uncommon in Jamaica and it is quite difficult to treat.
Another doctor stated in a letter that treatment for her medical condition is not available in her home country. Her family doctor stated she has been a patient of several specialists in the Greater Toronto Area and she is unsure of what her patient’s future holds if she is required to return to Jamaica.
We requested that her application be approved as Sharon associates trauma, hardship and a purposeless life in Jamaica as there is no future or livelihood for Sharon.
Last week our office received a letter stating that a representative of the minister of citizenship and immigration approved the request for an exemption from the requirements for the purpose of processing this application.
It further said that if she wishes to work or study in Canada she is at liberty to apply.
Upon hearing the good news, Sharon screamed “it’s the best Christmas gift” and thanked all who assisted her in making her dreams come true. It clearly shows she had the determination and will to succeed.
Merry Christmas and happy and safe holidays.
Sukhram Ramkissoon is a member of ICCRC and specializes in immigration matters at 3089 Bathurst St., Suite 219, Toronto. Phone 416-789-5756.