Solidarity with the Bakare Family
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Emergency call for solidarity from community organizations, businesses and concerned citizens in and around Windsor, Ontario:
The Bakare family arrived in Canada as refugees in 2017, fearing their daughter would be subjected to female genital mutilation along with constant threats of violence with no police protection. The Canadian government is now threatening to deport them.
Rasheedat Bakare, her husband Afeez, their son Faaiq and daughter Faiqah all fled Nigeria and arrived in Canada in 2017. The family's youngest daughter Farhana was born in Canada in 2018. Rasheedat is 5 months pregnant with another daughter. The Bakare family fled their town in Nigeria out of fear that their daughter would be subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) and then fled Nigeria altogether when the constant threats of violence persisted, including from the terrorist group Boko Haram. In a recent CBC article, Afeez is quoted: "People from home, now they know that I'm in Canada, if I go back home, they are going to kill me, they're going to kill my wife," he said. The Canadian government has served the family with a deportation order.
In their community of origin, FGM is still commonly practiced, despite the act being illegal at the national level. When Rasheedat gave birth to a baby girl - the first in Afeez’s family in a generation - they knew that the daughter was at extreme risk. Afeez went to the police, but was told that it was a ‘family matter’ and that nothing could be done. The act is usually carried out when girls reach about a year in age; Afeez knew that time was limited. Resisting the leaders of the community and attempting to remove his daughter from this situation put the whole family at risk. They travelled to other parts of Nigeria seeking refuge to no avail: from political instability and riots to the extremes of Boko Haram, nowhere seemed safe. Worse yet, he knew that anywhere they settled in Nigeria, his family would constantly be a target because of their defiance and that they could never truly be out of harm's way.
With time running out, Afeez made the only decision he had left to make: he secured passage out of the country for himself and for his family. The family made it to Montreal where they applied for refugee status. Because he could not speak French, Afeez struggled to find work in the area, and so they relocated once more to Windsor. The family has been living in our community ever since, and they have built a life for themselves here. The children attend our local public school board.
Afeez has been working tirelessly to support his family in Canada, but the family spent $5000 on help from an immigration consultant which left them with little more than a deportation notice. Unfortunately, the family was unfamiliar with the refugee system and was repeatedly confused and mislead by those meant to be helping with their case. They were advised to withdraw their appeal and to apply on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, and without the appeal, there is no clear way to delay the deportation order. The Canadian government intends to deport the family and has already confiscated their health cards, leaving a pregnant mother unable to utilize hospitals or clinics during a time of unprecedented stress.
We ask that our local representatives and officials at all levels of government work to stop this deportation order so that the family can have their case properly reviewed.
They have submitted their application for humanitarian and compassionate grounds and are waiting for a response. Humanitarian and compassionate grounds depend on a number of factors, including how settled the family is in Canada, the best interests of any children involved and what could happen if the request is not granted. We feel that their case is very clear, especially for the sake of the children and their safety. The family has found stability and community in Canada. One of their daughters was born in Canada and this country is all she knows. Back in Nigeria, the violent threats and uncertainty for their daughters and the whole family are still as present as when they fled, sending them there would be disastrous and they would certainly face irreparable harm. As Afeez explains: “We have nowhere in our home country to return to.”
We, the community of Windsor-Essex County, welcome the Bakare family with open arms. In the parents, we see warm, caring people who only want the best for their children. They have been living in fear and on the run for far too long. There is a special place in our community for them, and we are doing everything in our power to bring together community organizations and more to oppose this senseless deportation. To that end, we are asking all community leaders, organizations, businesses, and concerned individuals to support the cause by signing this petition, which will be distributed to:
- Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Bill.Blair@parl.gc.ca or email@example.com
613-944-4875 or 1-800-830-3118
- Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration
613-992-6361 or 416-781-5583
- Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
In addition to any other relevant parties. Furthermore, we encourage you to contact these ministers and express your concerns personally, please feel free to utilize portions of this letter. It’s time for us to come together and stand up for a family in need, this issue is of utmost importance and we must act now!
Thank you for your time and compassion.
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