Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Deborah Adegboye (left to right), Quebec Soldaire MNA Guillaume Cliche-Rivard and NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice attend an event as community groups gather outside federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller's Montreal office on March 29 to demand a stop to the deportation of Adegboye's family next month.Thomas MacDonald/The Canadian Press

With one week left before her family’s scheduled deportation from Canada, Deborah Adegboye stood outside of the federal immigration minister’s Montreal office on Friday pleading for a chance to stay.

She and her husband arrived in Quebec from Nigeria with their first child as asylum-seekers via the now-shuttered Roxham Road crossing in 2017, fleeing what she says was religious persecution by a dangerous Nigerian cult.

Since then, Adegboye says they have made a home in Montreal. Her children – including two others who were born in Canada – attend school in French. And Adegboye and her husband have worked as orderlies since the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic, travelling between the homes of patients, many with disabilities, offering assistance with basic tasks.

But despite their love for their work and what Adegboye described as her family’s contributions to Canadian society, federal officials have rejected their requests to immigrate. In October, she and her husband were told they would have to leave Canada on April 5.

“It’s been like they have given us (a) death sentence,” Adegboye said outside Immigration Minister Marc Miller’s office, surrounded by community groups and friends who had come to support her cause. “Because I see no hope, no future for my children, for myself.”

At her side on Friday were Montreal NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice and Quebec national assembly member Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, who said it was unconscionable that Canada would expel an upstanding prospective Quebecker.

Cliche-Rivard, a member of the opposition Québec Solidaire, cited the province’s ongoing shortage of health-care workers as another factor in the case.

“I have a hard time understanding what these families are going to do,” he said, referring to the patients of Adegboye and her husband. “Here we have people who are making an exceptional contribution, guardian angels, people who give their time, their energy, body and soul for us, Quebeckers, our families, and the response after all this is deportation. I find this absurd.”

Boulerice called Adegboye’s story a “model of integration.”

“If we deport people like Deborah, who are we as a society, Mr. Miller?” he asked, calling on the minister to suspend the deportation.

Miller’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Friday. The office of Quebec Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette issued a statement via e-mail saying it hoped federal officials would weigh Adegboye’s and her husband’s contributions during the pandemic when considering their family’s case.

Adegboye said she hopes to continue her work.

“If the (Canadian) government can do this, we will give back to Canada,” she said.

The planned deportation of her family comes as the provincial and federal governments wrangle over control of immigration. Quebec Premier François Legault has said the province is unable to accommodate a recent surge in temporary workers and asylum-seekers.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe