Nfld. & Labrador

'I will not let you guys down,' Machel Rayner vows, as permanent residency reinstated

A Jamaican-born St. John's man who had his future in Canada thrown into doubt says the support of Canadians in Newfoundland and Labrador and elsewhere helped him get his permanent residency back on track.

Jamaican-born man's future thrown into uncertainty after breaking rule of provincial program

Machel Rayner, 31, left, and his brother, Shaquille, 23, pose in front of an iceberg. Rayner had feared he would have to leave his adopted country of Canada, after losing a chance at permanent residency because of breaking a rule he says he didn't know existed. (Submitted)

Machel Rayner is spending this Christmas with his younger brother in Newfoundland after all, and says he no longer has to worry about his future in Canada.

"I am excited," the Jamaican-born personal trainer told CBC News on Friday. "I am happy that I can continue to do what I came here to do: start over and rebuild."

Rayner, 31, who is originally from Jamaica, said he was notified Wednesday his travel documents would be returned. And on Friday, he was told his permanent residency was in the mail.

Earlier this month, CBC reported that Rayner feared having to leave his adopted country of Canada, after he broke a rule he says he didn't know existed.

In September, he had received confirmation of his permanent residency in Newfoundland and Labrador, the province he has called home for eight years. However, there was one more thing he had to do.

Rayner needed to find a good-paying job, one that could support him, his two younger siblings and his mother back in his home country of Jamaica.

But one false move — temporarily relocating to Halifax for work — put him at odds with the rules of the Newfoundland and Labrador government immigration program, which insisted that he stay put inside the province. The expulsion threw his life, and the lives of his family, into flux.

Rayner thought he would need to leave behind younger brother Shaquille, 23, who is studying to be an electrical technician at the College of the North Atlantic St. John's campus.

But after the Dec. 6 story, Rayner began receiving support from all over Canada, particularly in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Machel Rayner, seen in a CBC story from 2011, was known for his singing and dancing when he worked at Tim Hortons in the Aquarena in St. John's. (CBC)

Rayner said the decision to return his residency came because of the continued support following the CBC story and because "it was a simple mistake."

"It wasn't anything bad, it was a simple misunderstanding on my part about this decision."

Back in Jamaica, Rayner's mother Linda said her prayers have paid off, he said.

"She said God has come through," Rayner said. 

Originally from Trenchtown, Jamaica, Rayner was part of a nominee program that the Newfoundland and Labrador government runs to increase immigration and fill labour shortages.

Machel Rayner says he'll stay in Newfoundland now that he's been granted permanent residency. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

After losing part of his salary at his personal training job in St. John's because of the elimination of a fitness program, Rayner said he decided to seek employment temporarily in Halifax.

'Will continue to work hard'

That mistake left him with a couple of options, including an appeals hearing that could have resulted in him being banned from the country for up to five years.

However, he said, the hearing has now been cancelled and Rayner is able to continue his life in Canada. 

"Yes, I will be staying here," Rayner said when asked if he would stay in Newfoundland after being granted residency. He hopes to obtain his Canadian citizenship.

"It's an incredible feeling to know Canadians stand by immigrants this much and without them this wouldn't have been possible."

Rayner credited the Newfoundland and Labrador government, and supporters across the country. 

"I will not let you guys down and will continue to work hard and contribute to this beautiful province and to be a Newfoundlander."

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

About the Author

Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's.

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