Discrimination – Canada style
It all started with an invitation from my niece in Canada to attend her wedding at a resort near her home in Calgary. Both my sisters now live in Canada, having emigrated from South Africa some years ago. Both have had very trying ordeals attempting to settle in to their new country, but they’re now settled despite the best efforts of the locals to reject them. Of course I knew that I would have to visit them sooner or later, but it never seemed that important until I received the wedding invitation. My niece was to be the first of all our ‘children’ to be married, so it was an occasion worthy of a visit to the country of the maple leaf (which, I have found out since, looks a lot like a marijuana leaf).
I accepted the invite and set about booking flight tickets for myself and Frank. I felt sure that, having already obtained a 5-Year UK residence visa and a Danish EU residence visa, he would have no trouble gaining entry into Canada. There is always the ‘catch-22’ situation when trying to get a visa for travel. You have to have proof of your return air fare when you apply for the visa, but you are not sure whether you will get the visa, so you don’t want to book the flight until you know you have the visa. I think there are still some travel agents that can reserve a flight without actually booking it, but I went ahead and booked, as I was that certain all would be well.
The only way to apply for the Canadian visa is via their online service, so there’s no live person to speak to. The system itself is very efficient and works well. There are the standard questions about parents and family and I stated that Frank and I were married. Since I’m a UK citizen, I felt that this would lend credence to the application. It was stated that he had a job in Copenhagen and would return to Denmark two weeks after arrival in Canada. Imagine my surprise and shock when the visa application was denied with the weak excuse that the applicant had failed to convince the scrutinising officer that Frank would return to Denmark after two weeks in Canada! My first question was: How is one supposed to convince the visa officer that the candidate will return to the country of origin? There were no questions specifically related to that topic and no guidance on how to go about providing such proof! So in essence, they have created an impossible situation to which there is no reply or recourse. I was not able to find any contact number in order to speak to someone at the Canadian embassy in London. The only form of contact is via the online application. I had to accept that I had lost $100.
I thought to myself: If they only knew what a nice, kind and gentle person Frank is, they wouldn’t reject his application. But of course such things are not taken into account. Frank, being the sensitive soul that is is, was devastated at the rejection. I could understand the outright rejection of his application in one sense, as he is from the Philippines and their citizens are notorious for overstaying their travel visas in most countries throughout the world as they desperately try to make a better life for themselves. So in a way I can’t blame the Canadian authorities for discriminating against Filipinos, but in this case the Philippines citizen was married to a UK citizen. That had to count for something! Undeterred, I submitted another application and paid another $100 for that privilege. This time I included a letter from my sister in Canada stating that Frank would be attending her daughter’s wedding together with me and that we would stay with her throughout the time we were in Canada.
Again the application was rejected and with the same reason – that they were ‘unconvinced’ that he would return to Denmark after his visit!! At this stage I was both shocked and very angry, but with no outlet for my anger. I have rarely felt such a sense of helplessness and began to direct my anger at Canadians everywhere and anything made in Canada. It became clear to me that I would have to attend the wedding, as it would be petty of me to refuse to go just because Frank would not be able to accompany me, but at the same time, I didn’t want to leave him alone at home. We finally decided that he would go home to the Philippines for the time that I was in Canada. It wasn’t ideal, but was the only solution given the circumstances. I lost the $700 that I had paid for Frank’s flight ticket to Canada as well as the $200 that I paid for both visa applications and was left feeling shattered and outraged by the experience.
Suffice it to say that I was not amused, when I arrived at Calgary airport, by the airport staff dressed in their silly cowboy attire. I saw it as just another demonstration of the childish and petty attitude that had been shown to us by the immigration officials. It is sad that the beauty and majesty of the countryside became insignificant, as I had no-one to share it with. My other half had been denied entry into the country and I was not about to allow myself to enjoy the experience. Perhaps that seems churlish, but that was my feeling as I drove alone through the Canadian wilderness, wishing that I could be back home in Denmark. You can imagine my surprise and pain when I walked into Walmart one morning and found it to be staffed almost entirely by….Filipinos!! So why would they reject my Frank? It remains a mystery. I did read somewhere that they routinely reject 20% of all applicants just because they can.
Canada reminds me very much of the spoilt child who refuses to share his (or her) nice toys with the other children. Having been to Canada and seen what they have to offer, I have to admit that it is beautiful, but, as they say in the movies, “it ain’t all that and a bag of chips.” Canada can take their country and shove it up their maple-leafed jumper! I won’t be going back there.
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