Nfld. & Labrador

After immigration trouble, this St. John's trainer is back to helping others

Machel Rayner, 32, is back working three jobs — and he couldn't be happier about it.

Machel Rayner, 32, back working 3 jobs — and couldn't be happier

Machel Rayner, 32, is back working in the field of fitness in St. John's, at Reps on Elizabeth Avenue. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Machel Rayner isn't one to take a break.

He hops, jumps and pushes a fitness class that he teaches at Reps Fitness in St. John's. Singing the lyrics to Kool & The Gang's Celebration, the 32-year-old personal trainer offers words of encouragement.

"You're strong, fit people. Let's get 'er done," Rayner tells the group. 

After class he has a 15-minute window to get to Memorial University to start his second job as a research assistant. It's a rush he missed in the three months he went without work.

"I have so much energy to go for it and start getting started on that journey to get back on my feet," Rayner said.

Rayner, 32, works at a research lab at Memorial University. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

In December, CBC News reported that the Jamaican-born man feared having to leave his adopted country of Canada, after he broke a rule he says he didn't know existed.

In September 2018, 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.

"After the news broke out the federal government and the provincial government agreed that they should cancel the hearing with the Canada Border Services and they wrote me a letter to say that all the cases that they have against me has been dropped," he said.

Family to be reunited

Rayner is now preparing for one of his younger brothers and his mother to come to Canada to live.

He's quick to express gratitude towards the public, the politicians who helped him, and his lawyer.

As he counts down the two years until he can apply to become a Canadian citizen, Rayner is helping others with their immigration troubles, including a man in P.E.I.

"His lawyer directed him to me to see the process that I had gone through to help him, and he was successful in retaining his work permit after that," Rayner says with a smile. 

"I'm happy that this event allowed me to help others in similar situations on how they can come from it."

Rayner hugs his mother, who is expected to move to Canada. (Submitted)

In the research lab at MUN, Rayner and a team focus on wearable devices and how accurately they measure physical activity. 

Daniel Fuller, a professor in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation at Memorial University, was one of the people who reached out to Rayner when he heard about his predicament. 

"We need highly qualified personnel, we need people who are well trained to run these kind of studies, to organize all the equipment, to manage participants, and those people are hard to find," Fuller said.

"So once you found somebody, you want to keep them around as much as you can. Machel fit the bill for that."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

About the Author

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