Nigerian Mother to Be Deported Sunday After 6 Years in Canada

Winifred Agimelen was surrounded by friend and family at the Pierre Trudeau airport Sunday afternoon as she awaited her 7 p.m. deportation flight. Photo Verity Stevenson

Winifred Agimelen will split from the safe home she’s built for herself in Montreal—a house, a career, a husband, warmth and comfort for her three daughters—Sunday afternoon.

A federal court judge rejected her refugee claim after she’d been in the country for six years. Agimelen and her three daughters—one of which is Canadian—have to leave the country they grew up in today.

Their flight for Nigeria is at 4 p.m.

But Agimelen says returning to the country she fled six years ago is dangerous for her and her children.

“I was kidnapped in my country with my children,” she told The Link. “I came here, it was because a lot of things were going wrong, so I managed to come to Canada as a refugee.”

She said she fears her children will be subject to female genital mutilation, exposed to Ebola and the militant group Boko Haram.

“It’s very dangerous for them, and also for me, as well,” Agimelen said, noting she has no place to stay there and can’t return to her hometown because she may be sought out.

After getting married, her refugee status no longer held, and her new husband needed four more months in the country to be able to sponsor her.

Her lawyer, Angela Potvin, argued her case over the phone in federal court Thursday afternoon. Potvin had tried to negotiate that her client be able to stay in the country five more months, allowing her time to find out whether her application for permanent residence is approved or not.

But Agimelen said when Potvin called her back, she began to lose hope.

“It doesn’t look good,” she told The Link Friday afternoon.

A press release sent out by Sheila Sedinger, who was in a similar situation last month and is lending moral support to Agimelen, invited media to go to the airport at 2 p.m. to see Agimelen off.

“The only hope they have now is Winifred’s husband to re-apply one more time to bring them back, but will cost the family over $5,000 Canadian dollars that they don’t have and won’t stop her and her kids from being in grave danger,” Sedinger wrote.