A Saint John family is not ready to give up hope it will eventually be reunited with a disabled child the parents were forced to leave behind in India 12 years ago.
The girl has cerebral palsy, and was an infant when she was found medically inadmissible for entry to Canada.
Over the past decade, Harvesh Elavia has slowly built his South Asian grocery and homemade samosa business, Prashad’s Convenience, on the city’s east side.
One of his 14 year old daughters attends a Saint John school, but her identical twin, Dilnaaz, remains in India.
His wife, Jesmin Elavia, was in India, pregnant with the twins, when the family was moving through the immigration process to come to Canada.
Harvesh Elavia was working as a chef on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.
They were doing well on the immigration point system because Elavia had skills and was already working in North America. He said there was a complication when the girls were delivered premature.
"They were kept in incubation for about 12 days," said Elavia. "Then [when they] were onto a regular bed, doctors decided to come [test the twins] after 38 days. They would tap the fingers, snap close to their ears, and the second child was not able to respond."
"No problems" had girl been born in Canada
The girl was deemed medically inadmissible to enter the country, because her care would have to be paid for by medicare at the expense of the Canadian government.
Applications are scanned for people who might require "extensive, costly health care."
Elavia had a job waiting in Canada so they removed her name from the file.
He said had his daughter been born in Canada, there would have been no issues.
She is now being raised by a sister-in-law, but Elavia remains optimistic that she can one day join the family in New Brunswick.
'I would be more than glad if government sees some genuineness in my case, and tries to unify my family.' —Harvesh Elavia
For now, he said they can only send money home to help with their daughter’s care.
Elavia said he can’t tear her away from that family without bringing them too – an added challenge.
"I would be more than glad if government sees some genuineness in my case, and tries to unify my family," he said.
The Elavias have only seen their daughter twice since they were separated.
Seven years ago they tried to get a minister’s permit to bring Dilnaaz to Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
Elavia made an impassioned plea for an intervention in a letter directly to then-Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Diane Finley, late in 2008, but heard nothing back.
He later sent a copy to current Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney, but now believes their only hope is for Dilnaaz to pass a medical exam – a process that she has twice failed in the past.
If she fails a third time, Elavia said their case is over.
"It’s been very sad on us to leave her behind," said Elavia. "It’s not that I’m bargaining for her life but I feel, as a father of the child, if she would have been over here, there would have been considerable change in her health."