My name is Clairefise. I came to Canada in 2007 and applied for refugee status with the help of a lawyer. Eventually, my application was denied.
In 2009, the people at Matthew House (a shelter where I first stayed when I arrived in Windsor) referred me to the Windsor Refugee Office for assistance preparing an application for Permanent Residence based on Humanitarian and Compassionate (H+C) considerations.
At the Refugee Office, I found my precious persons; Helen, Claire and Bruce. They welcomed me, they were fighting for me, and they made me feel like I was their own blood. They helped me with my H&C application and they always were thinking of me and my children. The Refugee fund helped me by buying furniture and other things we needed for our home. They provided clothes for the kids and every year, provided presents for my children so that we could have a happy Christmas.
The support that I got from the Refugee Office and the Refugee Fund made me feel that I was not alone in Canada. I always felt that, no matter what the circumstance, they would be there for me and my children. It made me feel more powerful and I believe that God gave them to me. I knew that they were not doing this for money – they were doing this because they genuinely cared and loved the refugees that they were helping.
2009 – 2011: My H&C application was denied but my family was allowed to remain in Canada because my country was on Canada’s Temporary Suspension of Removal list. The people at the Refugee Office and the Refugee Fund continued to support me providing materials and clothes that we needed. They also taught me how to live in Canada – where to get help when I needed it. They helped me apply to Computers for Kids for a computer for my children to use.
2011 – 2014: In early 2011, I met Eric at my church and after a while, we fell in love. In 2012 we moved in together and Eric became a permanent part of my family. He was working full time and was able to support us so that we no longer needed any government financial assistance. In December 2012, our son, Ismael was born and in March 2015 we were married.
In 2015, with the help of the Refugee Office, I applied to stay in Canada as Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class. I remember Claire saying to me, “Although it may look difficult, we are going to work together to make it work.”
The application for Spousal Sponsorship was a long process and there were many financial obstacles. We needed to renew the passports for my U.S. born children. We needed passport photos. I needed police checks from both United States and Canada. We needed medicals for me and my U.S. born children. All of these requirements cost a lot of money. The application itself cost a lot of money. Although Eric was working full time, we could not afford the cost of all these things. Once again, the Refugee Fund came to our assistance with financial help. Once again we were blessed with this wonderful support.
I can never forget the help that I have received from the Refugee Office and from the Refugee Fund. They took care of me like their own. It doesn’t matter where you come from, what your colour, what your religion – they treat you the same.
In April 2015, my Spousal Application was accepted. I now have my Health Card and am applying for my Permanent Residency in Canada. I look forward to the time that I will become a citizen in this wonderful country – Canada.
Also, I was there for a dear friend of mine when they helped him prepare to bring his family to Canada. I was his transportation to and from our many meetings at the Refugee Office and I also was his translator because he spoke very little English. Because I was with him as translator, I witnessed the same caring help that he was given at the Refugee Office. His family required DNA blood tests, X-rays, and medicals that are very expensive to obtain in Haiti. He has limited financial resources and, once again, the Refugee Fund assisted him by providing the money needed to complete the requirements and they have assured him that they will assist with the cost of air fare to bring his family to join him here in Canada.
I am so happy that the people of the Refugee Office and the Refugee Fund have fought so hard for me (and other refugees) to stay in Canada.