A Grenadian mom and her three Canadian-born children aged 6, 9 and 14 are facing removal from Canada after she was told by Canada Border Services on Monday that she must report in mid-January and be prepared to leave by early February.
Paula, 38, who asked me to publish her story, says she came to Canada in August 1997 as a visitor because she suffered domestic abuse by the father of one of her four children who was born when she was a teenager in Grenada. The abuser was a policeman and she had no protection in that country.
She was abused emotionally, mentally, physically and sexually, so she remained in Canada. She worked hard and supported her children in Grenada. They are now adults and were able to have a good life as a result of the support they received from her.
She had three children born in Canada who are all attending school and she has established herself here without the support of the father of these children. The father is not in their lives.
After living here for over 16 years she decided to take the bold step to come forward to immigration and submitted a humanitarian and compassionate application through a lawyer. She always worked as a hairdresser and babysitter to support her and her children, never sought social assistance or had a criminal conviction and her children were all positive factors in the application.
No birth certificates for these Canadian-born children were submitted and no evidence as to the relationship with the father. As a result the application was denied in April 2014.
She was facing removal from Canada as she had lived here more than 16 years without status. As a victim of domestic abuse, she then made a claim for refugee protection based on abuse and no police protection. This claim was denied in December 2014 and she became subject to removal.
She recently approached my office and we submitted a new Humanitarian and Compassionate Application with the hope she and her children will be allowed to remain in Canada.
In a last-ditch effort to remain in Canada she faxed a personal five-page letter to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration John McCallum, setting out her circumstances and urging him to intervene in her bid to remain in Canada for the sake of her three Canadian children.
In her plea she explained the vulnerable and harsh conditions she underwent as an undocumented immigrant with three children who are all attending school. Her last child lacks social skills and will benefit from and updated hearing and psychological assessments.
In her letter to the minister she made these statements:
“Sir, while I applaud your humanitarian gesture in allowing 25,000 Syrian refugees to come to Canada and build new lives with their family at a costs of about 1.2 billion dollars, your department is now making me and my children displaced and disadvantaged by sending us back to Grenada, a country to which I am now a stranger as I am living here for approximate 18 years and consider here to be the home for myself and children. My three children will unduly suffer in a harsh manner, as they will be considered deported with me to Grenada.
“This is a cruel way of treating internal applicants with children whom are nationals of this country. Those refugees, with no ties to Canada, are being allowed to enter Canada and offered a new life. Of course, I understand and am compassionate to their situation but what defines hardships, why are their hardships considered different than mine, when I have lived in this country for almost two decades? I never depended on your social or medical system; I had the courage to battle this by myself with no other support. My children are integrated into the school system, know no other home than Canada, and my son needs special care which is not available in Grenada.”
She is anxiously awaiting a reply and hoping the minister will intervene and view her case with compassion and humanity for the children’s sake. Good luck!
Sukhram Ramkissoon is a member of ICCRC and specializes in immigration matters at 3089 Bathurst St., Toronto. Phone 416-789-5756.