Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds

“This is Victim Services of Peel. We have a mother and four children who need a place to stay. They’re Norwegian citizens and have overstayed their visa allowance. Please help us find a place for them.”

This call, although not surprising, was out of the ordinary for us. We had never dealt with a case where a family had overstayed their visa allowance, meaning they had no legal status in Canada and could be deported at any moment. It's hard enough for someone with status, and eligibility to access resources, to restart their lives after domestic abuse, now imagine not having access to financial assistance, counselling, or food banks. We knew this was a case we had to help out with.

We got in contact with Faiza and learned that although she was supposed to be staying at a shelter, due to overcrowding, they placed Faiza and her four children in a motel room several kilometers from the shelter, without food or access to a case worker. That same day, after filling the application out over the phone with Faiza, we got her a taxi and brought her to Nisa Homes. The first thing Faiza did was give our house operator a hug and break down crying. She had been bouncing from shelter to shelter for the past few months and hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in those months. 

I got to work right away and as the family was large, I made a trip to Ikea to get more beds. I got the children involved in assembling the beds to bond and try to make them more comfortable in their new home. They shared their fears, sorrows, and hopes with me and told me what had transpired between their parents, from their view. 

Faiza came with her husband and their children to Canada. In Norway, the abuse only took place at home. Faiza thought having her family around would give her more protection, he couldn't possibly abuse her in front of her parents. Sadly, he did. He proceeded to physically abuse her in front of her parents and siblings. When her parents called the police, her husband ended up in jail for a couple of months. Upon his release and deportation to Norway, he told Faiza that he never wanted to see her or their daughter again, otherwise he would kill them. Faiza’s fear laid in the realization that he had no emotional connection to her or her daughter but he loved their sons. Faiza and her daughter had been physically and emotionally abused for years but he never laid a hand on his sons. 

After hearing the details of the events that had transpired, we got to work on determining a way to keep Faiza in the country and have her kids begin school. Thankfully, the school board admitted the children and allowed them to start classes right away. In regards to the family’s status in Canada, we worked with a lawyer and submitted an application for them to stay under humanitarian and compassionate grounds. 

Today, the family still resides at Nisa Homes and we are waiting to hear back from the government about their application. Faiza and her children are hopeful that they will be permitted to stay in Canada and get their lives started again. They have nowhere else to go otherwise.