Mother and sons facing deportation find refuge in Winnipeg church
CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from CTV Winnipeg’s Gabrielle Marchand
Published Thursday, June 6, 2019 7:26PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 6, 2019 8:06PM EDT
A mother and her two sons who were supposed to be deported back to Sierra Leone nearly two months ago have been given shelter at a Winnipeg church, saying deportation could put their lives at risk.
Fatmata Kargbo and her boys came to Canada in 2016 on visitor visas with her then-husband for a wedding. Kargbo says her husband returned to Sierra Leone alone, sold all her possessions and has since divorced her.
Now, she fears retribution if she returns home.
“I have nowhere to go. Nowhere to live,” she told CTV Winnipeg.
Kargbo says she’s tried to stay in Canada legally. She says she applied for refugee status and filed an application on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. All those attempts have been rejected. The family was due to be deported on April 11.
Immigration Citizenship and Refugees Canada said it couldn’t comment on the case due to privacy reasons.
Crestview Fellowship Church in Winnipeg decided to open up its doors to the woman and her sons. The church has installed a shower, a washer and a dryer for the family, and a room in the basement serves as a classroom for the two boys. The church has also hired a lawyer to appeal the case.
Pastor Darrel Guenther said he’s been clear with Kargbo that, from a legal perspective, Canada Border Services could “walk in right now and take them.”
"She is seeking sanctuary and that's something that Border Services will honour, but they don't necessarily have to. There’s nothing legal in that for them,” Guenther said.
Before moving into the church, Kargbo said she had an apartment for her boys and worked as a housekeeper under a work permit. Now, she said, she can’t go to work and won’t let her sons leave the church. The two boys often pass the time playing basketball in the church gymnasium.
“Every day in the night they will say 'oh mom we want to go outside. we miss our friends," she said.
Kargbo described the situation as “heartbreaking” but said she’s willing to do whatever it takes to stay in Canada and give her sons “a better life.”