Wednesday, July 15, 2009
By TOM GODFREY, Sun Media Tears of joy rolled down Roseline Awolope’s face as her deportation to Nigeria — and the possible genital mutilation of her young daughters — were put on hold by a federal court judge. “I am so happy that I haven’t stopped praying,” a weeping Awolope said today. “This is a great country and we are so happy that we don’t have to go back.” Awolope, 35, a single mother of four — Joseph, 10; Blessing, 8; Grace, 6; and Canadian-born John, 1 — were slated to be deported Thursday after her refugee claim was turned down by an immigration and refugee board. The case was appealed to the high court, where Mr. Justice Frederick Gibson killed the deportation order late Monday. Awolope claimed she would be murdered, her daughters would face female circumcision and all four siblings would be forced to undergo face markings with a hot knife if Canadian authorities sent them Nigeria. “Today is one of our happiest days,” she said yesterday. “The children are so happy that they are not going back.” Awolope, who is studying at Evergreen College to become a child care assistant, said her family plan to become immigrants and then take out citizenship. She arrived in Canada in March 2005 and filed an unsuccessful refugee claim, saying her daughters would be at risk of genital mutilation because they belong to the Yoruba tribe in Ondo state, where 98% of the members undergo the procedure. Her lawyer George Kubes said it was an emotional hearing at the 180 Queen St. W. court. “Even the judge said he couldn’t sleep at night when he looked at the case,” Kubes said yesterday. “It was very emotional.” He said Gibson allowed Awolope to stay in Canada until an appeal into the case is heard, and that can take about a year. “This is the third time a federal court judge has stopped their deportation,” Kubes sad. “The family is very grateful to Canada.” The case prompted dozens of calls and e-mails from concerned Toronto Sun readers, who called with offers of money or places for the family to stay. “I hope the justice system will come through and help this family,” said Veronica Jones, of Timmins, Ont. “As a young mother, I could not imagine the pain Mrs. Awolope is going through — not to mention what will happen to her if she is sent back.” “I am disgusted and I can’t remember ever feeling so angry over something I read,” wrote Kendra Chevalier. “It’s outrageous enough that the mom Roseline may be killed, but for the children to be at risk for facial markings and female mutilation?” “People like her and her family deserve a chance,” wrote Natalie. “They are obviously upstanding citizens that would be an asset to our community."