DESPERATE TURN OF EVENTS: Dorian victims denied refugee status in Canada seek help returning home

DESPERATE TURN OF EVENTS: Dorian victims denied refugee status in Canada seek help returning home
From left, Dexter Ferguson, Bridgeanna Ferguson and Dexter Ferguson Jr, Hurricane Dorian survivors who were denied asylum in Canada.

Canadian high commissioner says family can apply for review but little else can be done

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A Bahamian family that fled to Canada following the devastating impact of Hurricane Dorian on Abaco and Grand Bahama have been denied refugee status in Kelowna, British Columbia, and are now seeking help as they face deportation back to The Bahamas.

Dexter Ferguson, Bridgeanna Ferguson and Dexter Ferguson Jr said while they wish to remain and work in Canada, they have accepted their denial of refugee status during a recent hearing and will comply.

Rutland Seventh-Day Adventist Church has sought to assist the family, which does not have sufficient funds to return home.

[pullquote]

We applied for refugee protection, but we were denied. Now we have only 15 days left before we get deported.

– Dexter Ferguson

[/pullquote]

Being deported would run the risk of the family being unable to return through standard immigration channels.

“I desperately need help right now,” Ferguson said.

“We came to Canada in 2019 after Hurricane Dorian and we’ve been trying to pick up the pieces of our life ever since.

“We applied for refugee protection, but we were denied.

“Now we have only 15 days left before we get deported.

“We can’t work because our work permits expired right after our immigration hearing.

“At this point, we might not be able to fight the deportation, but we’ll need help to get someplace to hang our hats and survive until we get some sort of normalcy.

“Please find it in your heart to donate to my family.

“This is pretty much a life-or-death situation for us.”

Dorian decimated portions of Abaco and Grand Bahama in September 2019, leaving hundreds of families without homes.

Scores of Bahamian evacuees traveled to the United States and Canada.

Many of them have since returned home.

The Fergusons have set up a GoFundMe account in hopes of raising $5,000 CAD.

Around $1,600 has been raised to date.

Ferguson said he was thankful for the encouragement and emails received from so many people as he asked for the public to “keep us in your hearts and prayers”.

Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica and The Bahamas Emina Tudakovic.

“Words can’t express how much we appreciate the support we’ve received so far,” Ferguson said.

“We are still not close to our goal yet, but we have faith and that’s all that counts.”

When contacted, Canadian High Commissioner to The Bahamas Emina Tudakovic said if someone has been asked to leave the country and they do not, it would result in difficulty returning.

She noted that in failed asylum claims, there are ways to apply to have the case reviewed, but other than that, not much else can be done.

“There is really nothing that I could do or any one government official to stay a deportation, but the above avenues, such as an application for a pre-removal risk assessment, are available to those who can demonstrate a danger if they are forced to return,” Tudakovic said.

“If they have insufficient funds, they can usually contact the contact information on the letter/information they received in regards to their failed claim to tell them so and they can pay.

“But I think it then ends up a debt that they would have to pay back at some point before ever returning to Canada.”

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.