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Colombian woman face deportation: A time to reflect on the situation of Immigrant women in Canada

by Mariana I. Paludi

Colombian woman face deportation: A time to reflect on the situation of Immigrant women in Canada

I am sitting in my office working on my thesis on women in Latin America, while I hear the phone rang: “Gloria was arrested, and she will be deported to Colombia”.  I met Gloria two weeks ago in a trip to Montréal. As a landlord she was gentile, efficient, kind and always helpful with the tenants. Once I forgot the key her partner, Mr. R., a Mexican man invite me to enter the apartment, and the three of us share our experiences as Latinos living in Canada. I remember their interaction being a little awkward, due to Mr. R. jokes trying to put Gloria down. I would never imagine the backstage story.

Gloria Carvajal, a 63 year old immigrant from Colombia, came to Canada in 2001 escaping from an abusive marriage in Colombia. Gloria applied for refugee status at her arrival, but during her first hearing with Immigration Canada suffered a nervous breakdown in addition to the fact that she could not speak English or French. In the absence of a translator and any type of psychological support her Refugee was rejected by Immigration Canada.

Gloria was supposed to return to Colombia in 2004 after failure to register as an immigrant, but her partner, Mr.R, forced her to stay in Canada illegally, offering her "protection". Gloria met Mr. R shortly after arriving in Canada and the relationship became even more abusive when he ostracized her by keeping her away from friends and family, hit her, and abused her sexually. He maintained his authority by claiming that he had "killed before", and threatening her even for seeing her own sons. Those threats by Mr. R. on top of the coercive power and sexual abuse she suffered, have hold back Gloria to report him to the police. Her sons tried to report Mr. R but Gloria discourage them to do so based on fear. 

On February 16th 2014, R was arrested for fare evasion, and to get himself out of the problem, he accused Gloria and gave up her name as an illegal immigrant, a situation he caused on the first place by forbidding her contacting Immigration Canada. Now Mr. R accused Gloria for his behaviour and forcing him to acquire money illegally in exchange for shelter and companionship.

By now, Gloria is being physically un-attended from her Myocardial Infarction, also known as Cardiac Crisis. Gloria has been emotionally damage and humiliated when dragged out of her house, and pushed in the van with her pants pulled down while she was not resisting her detention.

Immigration Canada schedule Gloria Carvajal’s deportation to be effective on Monday February 24th, 2014. We, her friends and family, consider she should be given the chance to speak up for herself. Since her arrival to Canada 13 years ago, Gloria has been socially involved with the community being a member of Le Comité Social Centre-Sud.  She is not a criminal, but a valuable human being for her community and friends.

Gloria Carvajal is not the first woman to be in a situation like the one described above. In 2011 Paola Ortiz, a Mexican mom of two was deported back to Mexico, the country she left because of domestic violence (see Paola Ortiz deportation: A Canadian disgrace). Last January, Lucia Vega Jimenez (42) hanged herself in the Canada Border Service Agency while she was being deported to Mexico, after being denied refugee in Canada (see Mexican woman who died after CBSA arrest hanged herself rather than be deported.) The latest news on Ivonne Hernandez case, mother of a 13-month son, that was about to be deported to Mexico because her abusive partner reported her to the police after leaving him; gives hopes for the case of Gloria Carvajal. The Montréal Federal Court through Judge Harrington granted a temporary stay of deportation to Ivonne Hernandez a couple of days ago (Update: Ivonne Hernandez will not be deported imminently).

The case of Gloria Carvajal evidence the urgent need for the use of intersectionality lenses within Canada’s Immigration laws, to understand the implications of nationality, citizenship, gender, race and sexuality on the life of immigrant women. In the word of Chicana, lesbian, activist and writer Gloria Anzaldua (1987): “As a mestiza I have no country, my homeland cast me out; yet all countries are mine because I am every women’s sister or potential lover”. Let`s start today by helping Gloria Carvajal and the other Glorias out there to make Canada their country.

Fallow Mariana Paludi on twitter at @marupalu


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marupalu (Mariana Ines)
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Canada, the next middle east?!

What an inhuman story... where is Canada going with this new approach towards immigrants?

I was born and raised in the Middle East. By the time we had a full brain and the power to question our situation, it was too late to stop the powerful fanatics. Are we going to allow our new home, Canada, be the next middle east?

The challenge is that in North America the young who have lived a painless life act oblivious towards the government and their future. They take what they have for granted.

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