A 70-year-old Toronto grandmother was deported on Thursday, despite having no family members remaining in her native Sri Lanka.
Gunapoosany Kandasamy, a Sri Lankan Tamil, boarded a flight to her old home at about 10 p.m., accompanied by another deportee, a Canadian Border Services Agency officer and a nurse who will accompany her for the flight.
Her Canadian daughter and granddaughter say they were given bad advice: rather than sponsoring her, they filed a refugee claim, which was rejected.
Kandasamy, a widow, has a hard time walking on her own. Her daughter in Toronto is scrambling to make arrangements so someone will collect her mother once she lands.
"She can go back there," her daughter, Chandradevi Uthirakumaran, told CBC News before the deportation. "But there's no other relatives or close friends or anyone."
Her granddaughter, Thadsa Uthirakumaran, said, "You wouldn't want it to happen to your family. Just give us a chance to give her a sponsorship from here. Don't send her off right away, not knowing the situation."
Two of Kandasamy's adult children live in Toronto, two in Norway. In its refusal, the Immigration and Refugee Board says Kandasamy had a permanent residency permit in Norway, but acknowledges the Norwegian residency stickers in her passport had expired.
The executive director of Toronto's South Asian Women's Centre says despite the family's mistake, this case demands compassion.
"We are finding that in fact the whole family reunification process, as far as grandmothers and mothers [are concerned], seems to have gone totally into the dustbin," Kripa Sekhar said.
Canada stopped accepting applications from people who want to join their children or grandchildren in Canada in November last year.
At the same time, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced a new super visa for people who want to visit their family members. The 10-year visa would allow them to stay for up to two years at a time. People need private medical insurance and meet a minimum annual income level of around $17,000 to have their parents or grandparents accepted.
The purpose is to clear a backlog of 180,000 applications while the government takes the time to consult Canadians and provincial governments about how to change the family reunification system, Kenney said at the time.
Kandasamy told CBC News she's afraid of what will happen when she steps off the plane alone.
The only way her deportation could have been stopped is if immigration officials had granted Kandasamy a humanitarian appeal to stay on compassionate grounds.
That could still happen, but if it does it will be while she's in Sri Lanka. To return, she'll need to apply for permission to re-enter the country.