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

Seniors-documentary-Parents

Stricken by her mom’s death, Sikh filmmaker learns ‘to keep moving forward’

LARISSA CHAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI When Vancouver filmmaker Baljit Sangra’s mother suddenly died after being struck by a car, Sangra was so devastated that she wanted…
Continue Reading »

Royal Wedding

Aga Khan’s eldest son Prince Rahim and his wife Kendra Salwa Spears expecting their first child

VANCOUVER DESI The Aga Khan’s eldest son Prince Rahim and his wife Princess Salwa (Kendra Salwa Spears) are expecting their first child, the spiritual leader…
Continue Reading »

CIVIC ELECTIONS

Surrey mayoral candidates share city visions at first meeting

AMY REID VANCOUVER DESI SURREY — Surrey mayoral candidates met for the city’s first all-candidates meeting Thursday night at SFU. Six of the seven candidates…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Seniors-documentary-Parents

Stricken by her mom’s death, Sikh filmmaker learns ‘to keep moving forward’

LARISSA CHAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI When Vancouver filmmaker Baljit Sangra’s mother suddenly died after being struck by a car, Sangra was so devastated that she wanted…
Continue Reading »

CIVIC ELECTIONS

Surrey mayoral candidates share city visions at first meeting

AMY REID VANCOUVER DESI SURREY — Surrey mayoral candidates met for the city’s first all-candidates meeting Thursday night at SFU. Six of the seven candidates…
Continue Reading »

OTTAWA

Surrey MP Nina Grewal’s account of the shootout in Ottawa

NINA GREWAL SPECIAL TO IANS  When Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was speaking at about 9.30 a.m. Wednesday in a caucus room of parliament, we…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

student dead

Two dead, including gunman, in school shooting north of Seattle

DOUG ESSER THE ASSOCIATED PRESS MARYSVILLE, Wash. — A student opened fire in a high school cafeteria north of Seattle on Friday, killing at least…
Continue Reading »

attack on Parliament Hill

Ottawa shooter kicked out of Burnaby mosque two years ago

Zehaf-Bibeau was asked to leave the mosque, because he had “gotten a hold of keys and stuff from the mosque, and when he got out…
Continue Reading »

labour laws violation

U.S. company penalized for mistreatment of Indian employees working 122 hours in a week

MICHAEL LIEDTKE THE ASSOCIATED PRESS SAN FRANCISCO – A Silicon Valley company is paying more than $43,000 in back wages and penalties after labour regulators…
Continue Reading »

DESI-SOCCER

Surrey soccer captain played the U-18 national club championship using only one foot

KYLE BENNING SURREY NOW SOUTH SURREY – Kyle Sohi’s perseverance and performance in the 2014 Sport Chek National Club Championships U-18 Cup Final might go…
Continue Reading »

SURREY-FIELD HOCKEY

Barinder Rasode announces plan to develop field hockey pitch in Surrey

Third field at Tamanawis Park would cost approximately $3 million KYLE BENNING SURREY NOW NEWTON – Barinder Rasode and the One Surrey team were at…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Stan Lee-Bollywood

Stan Lee plans Bollywood film on his first Indian superhero

VANCOUVER DESI Stan Lee, the legendary ‘Spiderman’ creator, is reportedly planning his Bollywood entry with a film on his Indian superhero character ‘Chakra: the Invincible’….
Continue Reading »

KANGANA RANAUT

Even my parents think I am weird, says Bollywood ‘Queen’ Kangana Ranaut

HINDUSTAN TIMES Kangana Ranaut has always made unconventional choices, be it her movies or the way she dresses. And the actor says she’s happy the…
Continue Reading »

Happy New Year-Bollywood

Happy New Year: Mandatory ‘formula’ and all those old Bollywood references

HINDUSTAN TIMES Film: Happy New Year Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Abhishek Bachchan, Boman Irani, Sonu Sood, Vivaan Shah, Jackie Shroff Director: Farah Khan…
Continue Reading »