Elderly Vancouver Island aunt allowed to stay in Canada after five-year fight

Published: May 11, 2013

KATHERINE DEDNYA 
VICTORIA TIMES COLONIST

Surjit Bhandal, 83, received word Friday that Citizenship and Immigration Canada will allow her to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Lyle Stafford/Times Colonist files

It’s going to be an especially happy Mother’s Day for Saanich resident Surjit Bhandal and the two nephews she raised since birth. Bhandal, 83, received word Friday that Citizenship and Immigration Canada will allow her to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate
grounds — ending five years of rejection.

“She feels, very, very good, finally,” said nephew Jasminder Bhandal, 45, a Saanich builder. “She was very upset before, so much tension was a burden on her health.” The aunt he calls “mom” is frail, has no family in India and has been fighting to stay since she first visited Langford in 2008.

Esquimalt Juan de Fuca MP Randall Garrison, whose office has championed her cause and put close to 100 hours into the case, said only a few routine procedures remain before Surjit Bhandal receives permanent resident status.

Garrison, who plans to drop in on her on Mother’s Day, said the decision sets a precedent in keeping with Canadian values: When federal adjudicators deal with other cases involving family members who don’t meet the “strict legal definition” of a family, those individuals can still qualify to stay.

Canadian law does not consider aunts close enough family members for reunification, but in this case, Surjit raised the two boys from birth because their mother was disabled. Although she’s their mother’s sister-in-law, they call Surjit mother. But because she was not their birth mother, the nephews could not sponsor her for permanent residence status.

“We don’t actually need a change to the law or the regulations,” said Garrison, an NDP MP. “We just need an understanding of diverse families and this is a precedent. … My only regret is that it took the Conservatives so long to come to the right conclusion.”

Jasminder said he is thankful not only for Garrison’s help, but for the churches and the rest of the community that supported the family, ultimately sending 5,000 letters and emails to Ottawa.

He recently completed a new house in Saanich where Surjit lives, while his birth mother travels back and forth from the Lower Mainland. He estimated his legal bills in the case at $40,000.

Garrison said he only wavered once in his conviction that the Bhandals would prevail, just prior to the December 2012 launch of public and legal appeals. But when he saw the turnout of Greater Victoria community and religious leaders, and the flow of letters and emails to Ottawa, he was convinced Canadian values would “shine through in the end.”

Meanwhile, other people in similar situations have already been forced to leave, he added.

“Unfortunately, Conservative immigration policy has leaned away from family reunification … and it’s put a heavier reliance on temporary foreign workers and other categories. To me, family reunification ought to be first.”

Read more Vancouver Island news at timescolonist.com


Tags: ,





Featured

Indian food recipes cuisine

Learn to make Indian foods at home

Recipes for Pani Puri and Spicy Potato Patties from Indian for Everyone by Anupy Singla LAURA BREHAUT CANADA.COM Spices, and the way you use them,…
Continue Reading »

police-desi-shooting-gang wars

Vehicles flee after shots exchanged in Abbotsford

VANCOUVER DESI Police are investigating after a report of shots fired and vehicles fleeing the scene Thursday evening in Abbotsford. Around 7:30 p.m., Abbotsford police…
Continue Reading »

desi man charged with arson

Son-in-law charged with woman’s death in Richmond fire

GORDON MCINTYRE VANCOUVER DESI The son-in-law of a woman who died in a fire in her Richmond home on Monday has been charged with second-degree…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Indian food recipes cuisine

Learn to make Indian foods at home

Recipes for Pani Puri and Spicy Potato Patties from Indian for Everyone by Anupy Singla LAURA BREHAUT CANADA.COM Spices, and the way you use them,…
Continue Reading »

police-desi-shooting-gang wars

Vehicles flee after shots exchanged in Abbotsford

VANCOUVER DESI Police are investigating after a report of shots fired and vehicles fleeing the scene Thursday evening in Abbotsford. Around 7:30 p.m., Abbotsford police…
Continue Reading »

desi man charged with arson

Son-in-law charged with woman’s death in Richmond fire

GORDON MCINTYRE VANCOUVER DESI The son-in-law of a woman who died in a fire in her Richmond home on Monday has been charged with second-degree…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Indian recipes-Vancouver Desi

Taste India: Mix creamed spinach with crispy paneer

RANDY SHORE POSTMEDIA NEWS When I go looking for ways to use garden greens, I often turn to Indian cuisine. Saag paneer is creamed spinach…
Continue Reading »

Vancouver-Surrey

Sikh community celebrates a harvest of goodness in B.C

JAGDEESH MANN VANCOUVER DESI For Vancouver publisher, Harbinder Singh Sewak, the dream was four years in the making. This week, as millions of Sikhs around…
Continue Reading »

Narendra Modi welcomed in Toronto

Photos: Modi-mania hits Canada

VANCOUVER DESI Check out photos of Indian Prime Mininster Narendra Modi’s visit to Canada. RELATED STORIES: “Rock-star” Modi to get Bollywood-style welcome at Surrey Hindu…
Continue Reading »

Desi-shooting-Surrey

11 of 19 Surrey/Delta shootings between South Asian, Somalian groups

Even the wounded won’t help cops investigate drug dealers’ war KIM BOLAN POSTMEDIA NEWS METRO VANCOUVER — Two groups of young drug dealers who have…
Continue Reading »

Royal Wedding

Aga Khan’s eldest son Prince Rahim and his wife Kendra Salwa Spears announce birth of first child

VANCOUVER DESI The Aga Khan’s eldest son Prince Rahim and his wife Princess Salwa (Kendra Salwa Spears) announced the arrival of their first child Tuesday….
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

FRANCE-ENTERTAINMENT-CANNES-FILM-FESTIVAL

Bollywood divas Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor to dazzle Cannes 2015 (with photos)

IANS Mumbai – Actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who is gearing up for her comeback on the silver screen, will be scorching the red carpet of…
Continue Reading »

Sonam Kapoor

Gallery: Bollywood fashionista Sonam Kapoor’s “Indian elements” at Cannes

VANCOUVER DESI As Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor, our very own desi fashionista who likes fusion fashion and has often chosen classy ensembles with “Indian elements”…
Continue Reading »

Aishwarya Rai

Gallery: Aishwarya Rai’s hot and not styles at Cannes

ALMAS MEHERALLY VANCOUVER DESI When the world’s brightest stars walk the red carpet at Cannes this May, movie fans will be watching closely. Former beauty…
Continue Reading »