1 year later: no resolution for Nigerian students in asylum
Two students have been hiding in a Regina church for a year to avoid deportation
It has been a year since two Nigerian students have been in asylum in Regina and despite support from local advocates, the university and province they still face deportation.
Victoria Ordu and Favour Amadi have taken sanctuary in a church after learning they would be forced to leave the country.
"Living here is not the most comfortable it has been," Ordu told CBC News Tuesday in a Skype interview.
"We only hope for the best, we hope the minister will pardon us and that would only enable us to go back to classes and finish our education."
The issue surfaced in 2011 when officials found out the women had been working at a Wal-Mart store for a short time.
They both had student visas, which allowed them to work in Canada, but only on the University of Regina campus.
The women said they weren't aware of the restriction, and once they found out that what they were doing was illegal they stopped working at the department store. However, they were still ordered to leave the country.
"We came here most importantly under a scholarship, so if we go back home we have literally nothing to show for it," said Amadi. "There's literally nothing to go home to show for."
The University of Regina has maintained their support for the students' case, appealing to federal ministers Vic Toews and Jason Kenney.
"The punishment far exceeds the nature of the offense, meaning that these young women have lost an entire year of their academic careers-and more importantly, of their lives," Vianne Timmons, the president of University of Regina, was quoted in a press release.
"A show of clemency from you will make a tremendous difference in their lives, and in the lives of their families in Nigeria who are so concerned about their welfare."
Faculty member Michelle Stewart, who is working on the case said Kenney had proposed changes to the International Student Program that would allow students to work both on and off campus with one permit.
"In the spirit of these changes that will be implemented over the coming year, we are asking Minister Kenney to use his discretionary power and allow these two women to return to their studies," said Stewart in a press release.
The women said just a few weeks ago the government asked them for more documents, but have not been given a timeline of when they will hear more.