WATCH ABOVE: A New Brunswick woman says Canada must revisit its travel restrictions on visitors from western Africa after her and her partner from Sierra Leone were denied entry into Canada. Global’s Alex Abdelwahab reports.
MONCTON – A Canadian woman, originally from New Brunswick, is upset her partner was not able to join her and their daughter this summer in Canada.
Rachael Borlase, who now lives in the UK, said her partner, Amara Bangura, was told his visitor visa to Canada would not be processed because he had recently been to Sierra Leone.
Borlase, who is visiting her parents in Pointe-du-Chene, NB, said the plan had been for Bangura to join them Thursday evening for her brother’s “typically East Coast” wedding this weekend.
“We’re going on a lobster boat, and then out for dinner,” Borlase said. “Then having a massive, about 100-person, pig roast tomorrow, as part of the whole wedding weekend.”
Borlase and Bangura live together with their daughter, six-month-old Ruby Borlase Bangura, in Norwich, England, where Bangura is completing his Master’s at the University of East Anglia.
But Bangura has a Sierra Leone passport, which means he requires a visa to visit Canada.
After submitting his application for a three-week travel visa, he received a letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada that said his “application [was] not eligible for processing and will not be processed,” because he had been to Sierra Leone for two weeks in May.
“It’s a real kick to the gut, if I’m honest,” Borlase said.
“I mean it’s always going to be a struggle for African passport holders to get in and out of Canada if they don’t have permanent status here, but we just could never have imagined that he would be denied this visitor’s visa.”
Borlase said her partner had been to Canada several times and they had lived together in Toronto when he studied at the University of Toronto.
She said she especially didn’t understand CIC’s decision given that Bangura had included a medical certificate from Public Health England that declared him Ebola-free.
The certificate, signed by a doctor in Norwich, states, “There is no known exposure to the Ebola Virus, so there is no reason to restrict activities. There is no public health reason to prevent a return to normal duties.”
Bangura travelled to Sierra Leone in May as part of his thesis work, which is focusing on how local media can react to international health challenges like Ebola. As part of his trip, he was training local journalists on how they can better report the facts of Ebola and keep their community safe.
According to the most recent WHO situation report, as of July 29, there were three reported cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone.
Borlase and her family believe it’s time Canada lift the ban, saying it’s too late for Bangura to attend the wedding, but they hope their story can help other people.
In an e-mail to Global News, Citizen and Immigration Canada said it couldn’t comment on specific cases, but said it maintained a regular dialogue with the WHO on the state of the outbreak.
“Although the World Health Organization indicates a welcome decline in case incidences, the WHO has also noted that it is too early to tell whether it will be sustained,” the e-mail said.