Feb 9 News
By: Dylan Robertson
Two UTSC students are about to find out where the future will take them.
Steve and Trisha Sherman received deportation orders three weeks ago to return to Guyana. Citizenship and Immigration Canada has denied the two asylum in Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Board Act.
The two have been ordered to leave the country by this Wednesday.
Trisha, a political science student, is in her last year of studies and planned to graduate in May. Steve is in his third year of environmental studies.
“At this point, we’re feeling defeated. We’re packing our bags and putting everything in the hands of a supreme being,” said Steve.
“They’re amazing, giving people; some of the best people I’ve known. Ever since they came to Canada they’ve been working really hard to give back to the community,” said Cheryl Brooks, a friend of Steve’s. She said the Shermans often tutor and volunteer at hospitals.
The Sherman family arrived in Canada in 2002 on a visitor visa. After their immigration request was denied, the parents and younger sister returned to Guyana. As minors, Steve and Trish applied for refugee status.
The family’s background is Indo-Guyanese, who make up 43.5 per cent of the Guyanese population as of 2002, mostly descendants of indentured labourers from India. The upper classes of the community are often subject to persecution and gang violence from Afro-Guyanese, the second largest ethnic group, forming 30.2 per cent of the population.
“When they were kids sometimes they’d be followed home, threatened, have stones thrown at them,” said Brooks. “Their family has been targeted. Businesses in their area owned by Indo-Guyanese would be destroyed.”
The two have been living with their grandparents, who are Canadian citizens.
Last weekend, they were granted a hearing where they presented a 500-signature petition, newspaper articles about the ongoing persecution as well as letters from family, friends, employers, and school officials. The two have spoken with Members of Parliament and attempted to get U of T administration involved. The group No One is Illegal, who supports Canadian refugees regardless of legal status, had planned a rally for last Thursday until the two pulled out.
The appeal was denied yesterday. Their lawyer is now taking the case to federal courts on the basis of a misunderstanding by CIC.
“If they don’t hear anything or get a negative response, they’ll leave Wednesday,” said Brooks. “But if they get a deferral, they’ll stay for as long as the deferral entitles them.”
The Shermans had hoped to stay until May 2 to finish the school year. They were paying domestic tuition fees as they presented a refugee claim.
“I know there are cases in the past where university students have been given more time,” said Steve. “I feel our university isn’t doing enough. It’s been difficult to get in touch with people.”
As of this morning, they have lost the possibility of a 50 per cent refund for dropping courses and paid full tuition for the rest of the semester.
“They are telling us that we’ve already paid our tuition. And they’ve told us that we won’t get a full reimbursement, that it will go according to the reimbursements schedule they have. They offered us no flexibility,” said Steve.
University officials could not be contacted for comment.