Supporters of Winifred Agimelen are decrying her ordered deportation Sunday, despite one of her children being born in Canada and her husband being a landed immigrant to the country.
Agimelen fled to Canada from Nigeria after her first husband vanished, thought to be killed by people that his own father owed money to.
The mother of three says as part of the ordeal, she and her children were kidnapped and her daughter was threatened with genital mutilation.
The traumatic experience is believed to have caused psychological damage to her eldest child and led her to flee to Canada.
Agimelen's lawyer Angela Potvin says the child's development could be negatively impacted by deportation to Africa.
“He’s not going to receive services in Nigeria. There’s no kind of therapy in Nigeria,” she said. “We don’t understand how Nigerian society works. It’s a much more dangerous place than we know.”
Agimelen admits expulsion and separation from her husband will be hard to bear.
“Mostly I’m worried about the safety of my children because there is so much violence in Nigeria. There’s news about kidnapping children in Nigeria. There’s Boko Haram and Ebola in Nigeria, it gives me so much fear for me and my children,” she said.
She says she has no place to stay in Nigeria and fears she will be targeted in her hometown, where she says she was subjected to violence.
Agimelen's husband with landed resident status was deemed to be four months shy of the amount of time in Canada required to sponsor Agimelen as his wife. She had originally filed to stay in Canada as a refugee.
Potvin applied for a five month extension to the deportation last Friday, hoping to allow Agimelen’s immigration application to be administered and processed without her being forced to leave for Nigeria, but it was denied.
Potvin asserts that the change of a single word in the rules on immigration has prevented the Canadian Border Services Agency from keeping the family together in Canada.
“One child has PTSD from this kidnapping in Nigeria and there’s jurisprudence that says this constitutes a ‘special circumstance’ but there was a subtle change made in the act," she said.
"It used to say that someone could be removed as soon as 'practicable' but now it says 'as soon as possible.’”
Agimelen will leave tomorrow with all three children, despite one child being eligible to stay, having been born in Canada.