Nigerian Immigrants Show Great Heart

By Gerry Weiner | May 18, 2016

I have been following this story of Nigerian immigrants who were deported from Canada for mistakenly violating the terms of their student visa:

The international student [Victoria Ordu] first arrived at University of Regina from Nigeria in 2009. In 2011, she and another Nigerian student, Favour Amadi, worked a couple of weeks at a Wal-Mart store off-campus before learning their student visas didn’t allow it. That’s when Canadian Border Services got involved— and so did officials, including the Canadian and Saskatchewan governments and the University president, among others.

Facing deportation, and communicating through an immigration consultant working on their behalf, the women hid in churches around Regina for more than 450 days while officials outside argued about their situation. Speaking to CBC in the fall of 2013, Ordu said, “I spent three years of my life studying here, and to go back without anything to show for it— it’s painful, it’s sad.” In October 2013, she and Amadi turned themselves in and were removed from the country.

Through perseverance and help from their family and community, the students were eventually allowed back into Canada to finish their studies.

We owe these young women a deep debt of gratitude for helping us better understand what Canada has become. We are a nation built by immigrants and refugees. Our nation has been strengthened by its diversity.

What these two young Nigerians showed us is the strength of character, the dedication and the tremendous effort that they invested to remain a part of this country. These are precisely the talents that will allow them to make an important contribution to Canada. We should be praising them and celebrating their accomplishments.

Thankfully, the community and their religious leaders rallied around them. Their story is not much different than the stories of many of our ancestors, who – if they had waited for an invitation – would never have arrived here.

The other important message that these two young students provide is a reflection of their country of origin, Nigeria. Over the past five years, it is a country I have come to know and love.

As a member of the Pace immigration team, I have seen that Nigeria is a country where family comes first. People are very respectful of their elders and community leaders. Nigerians are a highly intelligent people that place high value on education and work ethic.

The lesson being taught by Victoria Ordu can be applied to many peoples around the world and teaches how important it is to continue to learn about each other. This can only lead to greater peace and security for all.