For over a year, two young University of Regina students from Nigeria have been hiding in church basements in Regina to avoid deportation by the federal government.
Victoria Ordu and Favour Amadi made the honest mistake of working off-campus at Walmart for two weeks while they were studying at the U of R.
Victoria and Favour want to return to their studies at the University. However, the Harper government continues to insist on a penalty out of all proportion to the offence committed: deportation and the loss of their academic efforts.
In the meantime, the Harper government has proposed changes to the International Student Program that would allow international students to work off-campus with the same work permit. Supporters of Victoria and Favour are asking the federal government to include the cases of the two students when these changes are implemented.
KEY ELEMENTS IN THE CASE
- Victoria and Favour were students at the University of Regina from 2009 – 2012.
- In the summer of 2011, they both worked at Walmart for approximately two weeks.
- Both students had work permits for campus. Their mistake was thinking they could work off-campus.
- To avoid deportation, they went into hiding on June 19 2012. They have been in sanctuary in church basements ever since.
- The Canadian Border Services Agency had discretion to impose sanctions other than deportation. For example, they could have issued a warning and imposed a fine.
- Walmart also made a mistake in hiring Victoria and Favour. Yet it appears Walmart hasn’t faced any sanctions.
- The changes to the International Student Program proposed by the Harper government are likely to take effect in January 2014.
- Government officials continue to insist that, because Victoria and Favour broke the current rules, they must return to Nigeria.
- Victoria and Favour are supported by hundreds of students, faculty, and community members.
- Politicians from across the parties and jurisdictions have spoken publicly in support of Victoria and Favour, including: MP Ralph Goodale (Liberal); MP Jinny Sims (NDP); MLA Bill Boyd (Sask Party); MLA and Party Leader Cam Broten (NDP).
- The University of Regina has supported Victoria and Favour on compassionate grounds since their ordeal began in 2011 and maintains that commitment. Supports are in place to help them return to classes.
AN EXERCISE IN CONTRAST
CERTAIN CANADIAN SENATORS
Accusation: Making fraudulent expense claims
Initial Response: Denial
Mistake: Improperly billing tens of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars in either housing or travel allowance
Outcome: Pay back funds and say “Sorry.”
VICTORIA AND FAVOUR
Accusation: Working off-campus for 2 weeks without a work permit
Initial Response: Admission of mistake
Mistake: Earning extra money for an honest day’s work
Outcome: Deportation and loss of academic efforts
Why the double standard? The federal government should move quickly to pardon these students and allow them to return to their studies.
- Learn more. Go to http://stopurdeportations.com
Help Victoria and Favour return to classes at the University of Regina. Ask the federal ministers responsible to reconsider the penalty of deportation and allow the students to continue their studies in September.
Minister of Immigration, Chris Alexander: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: 613-995-8040; Fax: 613-957-2688; Twitter: @calxandr
Minister of Public Safety, Steven Blaney: Email: email@example.com; Phone: 613-992-7434; Fax: 613-995-6856; Twitter: @MinisterStevenBlaney
Follow Victoria (@beingvictoria) and Favour (Missfavour8) on twitter.