A country-wide campaign to bring a young stateless girl to Canada made a stop at a town-hall in Brampton on Saturday afternoon in hopes of coming face to face with Canada’s Immigration Minister.
A small crowd of supporters held #BringWidleneHome signs in the crowd to get the attention of Minister Ahmed Hussen.
Widlene Alexis Earle’s family has been trying to bring her from the Dominican Republic to Canada for the last eight years. Her adoptive father Vaden Earle, who is from Hamilton, has been living on the Caribbean island in order to take care of the 12-year-old. Though she was born in the Dominican Republic, Widlene’s mom is Haitian and died when she was just four years old, and Vaden says she’s considered stateless.
“The problem with being stateless is tripping up our adoption and immigration process,” said Vaden, speaking to CityNews on the phone. “Because the Canadian government is looking for some sort of country to sign off on the adoption, but we can’t because no country will claim her.
CityNews has detailed the struggles the young girl’s Canadian family has had to get her out of the Dominican Republic, especially since the mass deportation of Haitians from the country.
This summer the #BringWidleneHome campaign has gone national, so much so, Vaden says immigration officers have been receiving over 10,000 emails daily from the public. People have been notifying their MPs about Widlene, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also been confronted at events including in person by Vaden just recently.
Vaden couldn’t make it to Saturday’s town hall because of the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Instead, a group of supporters sat in the crowd waiting to ask Minister Hussen a question, but were unsuccessful. When it was announced the Minister had to leave, Darrin Brown – one of the supporters in attendance – approached the stage.
“Unacceptable, completely unacceptable,” Brown can be heard telling the Minister during a Facebook Live sent to CityNews. “Bring Widlene home.”
The Minister’s office tells CityNews in an email, that part of the delays can be attributed in part to missing paperwork that was not submitted to them. But they add that on August 24th they did receive an application for a temporary residency permit for Widlene and “a decision will be made based on specific facts presented.”
“My office is familiar with this case and we’re in touch with this family,” Minister Hussen said. “International adoptions follow very strict rules based on international law and any time you move a minor between two countries, there’s a strict procedure that’s followed in the best interest of the child and we have to make sure that those procedures are followed.”
Vaden says he remains hopeful for now, but will continue the campaign to bring Widlene home until they’re back on Canadian soil.
“I’m a Canadian, and I have to choose between my daughter and my country,” he said. It’s just plain wrong.”