Two Nigerian students living in Regina who have been in trouble with immigration authorities left Saskatchewan Friday.
Victoria Ordu and Favour Amadi, who were under a deportation order, took refuge in four different city churches after learning they would be forced to leave the country.
The University of Regina students have been in hiding for more than a year, getting by with the help of friends.
"I've spent three years of my life studying here, and to go back without anything to show for it, is painful, sad," said Ordu.
Amadi was feeling the same way.
"And to go back home without a single degree...is actually shameful and disappointing for both us and our parents," she said.
U of R behind the two women
University of Regina President, Vianne Timmons, was at the airport to say good-bye.
"They're worried and they're scared, and they're young girls, young women," said Timmons. "And they're frightened. And they also seem calmed in that they had made the decision"
Timmons said the two left voluntarily in the hope that doing so would allow them to return to Canada later. The University is vowing to help the students come back.
"I know they plan on applying for reinstatement as soon as they possibly can, and they'll have my full support on that," said Timmons.
The pair say their trouble stems from a few weeks in 2011 when they worked at a Regina Wal-Mart, not knowing it was not permitted under the terms of their student visas.
Case draws national attention
The case also drew the attention of Liberal MP Ralph Goodale, who took their plight to the House of Commons and said the women should be allowed to stay.
"Well, I think it's a very sad day," said Goodale. "It's a circumstance and situation that has been not a great model of common sense or good will or compassion."
The federal ministers in charge of this case, both past and present, have been unwilling to budge, despite overwhelming support for the young women.
'We will continue to advocate on their behalf'
On Friday, CBC News learned the students had flown out of Saskatchewan.
They were scheduled to get on a plane to Nigeria late Friday night. There's no word yet on their arrival in their homeland.
Kay Adebogun, Senior Immigration Counsel, in Regina told CBC News the the women chose the voluntary departure.
"They have voluntary given themselves over to CBSA," he said. "We salute their courage, braveness and struggle and we support their cause. We will continue to advocate on their behalf."
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced later Friday the two women were leaving for Nigeria.
"The removal of these individuals demonstrates the commitment to maintaining the integrity of Canada's immigration program," said CBSA in a press release.