The Bakares, Canada

The Bakares, Canada

A Nigerian family facing deportation is calling on the Canadian government to provide any assistance possible to avoid returning home, out of fear that two young girls — with another on the way — will be subjected to female genital mutilation.

Rasheedat Bakare, her husband Afeez, son Faaiq and daughter Faiqah all fled Nigeria and arrived in Canada in 2017. The family’s youngest daughter Farhana was born in Canada in 2018.

The family of five was denied refugee status on Thursday and were told to leave the country by 3 p.m. on Friday.

“My children’s life, my husband’s life is at risk,” said Rasheedat Bakare. “We ran away because they wanted to circumcise my baby girl — the one I brought from Africa. When I got to Canada, I had another baby girl. Currently, I’m pregnant with another baby girl. Now [I’ll have] three baby girls — [and all of their lives are] going to be at risk.”

Rasheedat Bakare

The family’s case caught the attention of the African Community Organization of Windsor (ACOW), a group that staged a protest on Friday outside the office of Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse.

Claude Saizonou, president of the ACOW, said his group gathered outside Masse’s office because “we’ve been through this kind of situation so many time.”

“We never react. We never say anything,” he said. “And we just have [had] enough of it. We just want to stand up and say ‘If we don’t do it, nobody would do it for us.’ And this family has to stay today.”

On Friday afternoon, after Rasheedat — who is approximately five months pregnant — collapsed and was rushed to hospital, the government issued a temporary delay on the deportation order.

Afeez Bakare said he’s not sure when he and his family will be required to leave.

“I don’t want my life and my family to be in danger,” he said. “My wife is in a state where she is restless, she cannot do anything.”

Family has limited options, says immigration consultant

Marwan Zarif, an immigration consultant who founded Canada by Choice in Windsor, said the Bakare family has a few options to appeal their deportation.

Their first option is to file for a pre-removal risk assessment.

“The problem with this pre-removal risk assessment is that immigration has to send you a form to fill,” said Zarif. “You can’t just apply for it.”

A second option is to apply to the refugee appeal division part of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.

However, Zarif said the appeal division “hasn’t been very active.” 

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