They say 'love knows no borders,' but that's not the case for this Canadian-American couple
Morgan McCormick lives in Port Huron. Cameron Jowett lives in London. They've been kept apart for months.
On July 18, Cameron Jowett of London, Ont. and Morgan McCormick of Port Huron, Mich. met at the Blue Water Bridge to celebrate their fifth anniversary.
Jowett, 23, stood on the Sarnia side and waved to his girlfriend, standing on the American side. As they looked at each other across the St. Clair river, they talked on FaceTime for about an hour.
"It was hard to see each other, but it kind of gave us some hope that you know, we're still there," said McCormick, 22. "It was the closest that we've physically been since March, so it was a good feeling."
The Canada-U.S. border shut down to non-essential traffic on March 21, with the Canadian government following up with a few exceptions: married and common-law couples could reunite as well as children whose parents lives in Canada.
But committed couples like McCormick and Jowett have so far been out of luck.
"A marriage certificate or a piece of paper shouldn't signify the validity of someone's relationship," said Jowett, a pilot, who had just secured a job in Toronto when the pandemic hit, forcing him to move back in with his parents in London. "And we would like to take a collaborative approach with the Canadian government to try to have them recognize that there are thousands of committed couples across the country that just want to be reunited with their loved ones."
Advocacy for Family Reunification at the Canadian Border
A Regina doctor and his partner, who were separated by restrictions put in place during the pandemic, have created an advocacy group hoping to help other families facing similar difficulties.
Dr. David Edward-Ooi Poon hasn't seen his partner Alexandria Aquino, who lives in Ireland, for months because of international travel restrictions. Now, the couple has started the advocacy group 'Advocacy for Family Reunification at the Canadian Border' and working with #Loveisnottourism to push for family reunification.
"Alexandria is a nurse. I am a physician. We understand completely how dangerous COVID is," Poon said. "What we're asking for is a fair discussion to allow people to come in and we are asking for clear instructions."
Couple not giving up on each other
McCormick and Jowett are familiar with being separated. The couple met on Tinder five years ago during their senior year of high school, but over the course of their relationship, they'd been able to see each other frequently on weekends.
When COVID19 struck, McCormick left her home in Chicago where she had recently landed a job with Expedia, to move back in with her family in Port Huron and began working remotely.
"We have been able to maintain somewhat of a physical aspect of our relationship through FaceTime and technology," said Jowett. "So, it's been easier that way...and we have sent some packages back and forth to to each other through mail. So, we've been coping in various ways but you know it has been stressful at times as well."
McCormick is now applying for permanent residency in Canada.
"So there is light at the end of the tunnel," Jowet said. "When Morgan completes her application hopefully she'll be accepted as a permanent resident in Canada and we can begin a lifelong journey together."