"We are just not ready to leave"
A Punjabi family of three living in Canada’s British Columbia province are set to be deported back to India on June 13, 2023.
The deportation is set to go ahead unless the Ottawa government grants a stay or delay.
Hardeep Singh Chahal, his wife Kamaldeep Kaur and their three-year-old daughter were given deportation orders in May 2023 for reasons withheld for privacy reasons.
The Canadian government granted the couple 10-year visitor visas and later work visas. Afterwards, they applied for refugee status.
But that claim and two subsequent appeals were denied in 2021 and 2022 as they were unable to provide the right documentation to substantiate their claim.
The couple fear that after deportation, a comeback will not be possible in Canada, which they consider as home and the Penticton community as family.
It is reported that it would be difficult for them to get jobs in India because of their limited qualifications.
Educations and healthcare are another two issues, which make the couple want to stay in Canada.
Kamaldeep said: “We are just not ready to leave… When we asked them (the government) why we had to go, they said these are the rules, these are the rules.”
Before the government order, Hardeep worked as an agricultural worker at Lake Breeze Winery in Naramata, and Kamaldeep had been working full-time at the Penticton Walmart.
Pierre Levesque, manager at the Lake Breeze Winery, said:
“He (Hardeep) came to work for me two years ago and he’s been stellar.
“This is so crazy that when we are in great need of good vineyard workers, the government wants to send him away.
Mr Levesque said he has received approximately 90 applications to fill Hardeep’s job but none have his qualifications.
Meanwhile, the community has come out in support of the family.
Over 100 emails of support have been sent to Okanagan MP Richard Cannings’ office.
Mr Cannings, MP for South Okanagan-West Kootenay, said:
“We are working very hard to get a stay on the deportation order and get this family permanent residency status.”
He has spoken to federal immigration twice and has sent support emails from the community to the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
The MP said his staff members have been working to stay the deportation, or at least delay it until they receive answers on their permanent residency application.
Jula Sukumar-Dyer, Mr Canning’s Penticton constituents’ assistant, said:
“They are very much contributing members of our community.
“Their employers are advocating hard for them to stay. We are anxiously awaiting to hear from the Canadian Border Services Agency on the permanent residency status.”