Previously deported Nigerian student back into Canada
Victoria Ordu and Favour Amadi hid in churches more than 450 days before being deported for working off-campus
CBC News Posted: May 13, 2016 9:18 PM CT Last Updated: May 13, 2016 9:18 PM CT
Earning a university degree is no easy feat, but Victoria Ordu is especially proud to convocate this spring, after her studies became the subject of national news. She spent time in hiding and was eventually deported during the time she was planning to work on her degree.
“By this time two years ago, I didn’t think I was going to be done with school or my major graduating. I’m like, ‘Oh my god, my life is over,'” she said in an interview with CBC. “But here I am, I’m still breathing.”
The international student first arrived at University of Regina from Nigeria in 2009. In 2011, she and another Nigerian student, Favour Amadi, worked a couple of weeks at a Wal-Mart store off-campus before learning their student visas didn’t allow it.
Seeking sanctuary in Saskatchewan
That’s when Canadian Border Services got involved— and so did officials, including the Canadian and Saskatchewan governments and the University president, among others. Facing deportation, and communicating through an immigration consultant working on their behalf, the women hid in churches around Regina for more than 450 days while officials outside argued about their situation.
The federal ministers responsible for public safety and immigration at the time, Vic Toews and Jason Kenney, questioned in 2012 whether the women were students at all. University of Regina President Vianne Timmons fired back saying they absolutely were students when it happened.
Speaking to CBC in the fall of 2013, Ordu said, “I spent three years of my life studying here, and to go back without anything to show for it— it’s painful, it’s sad.”
In October 2013, she and Amadi turned themselves in and were removed from the country.
The federal regulations were changed in 2014 to allow international students to work limited hours off-campus during their studies and breaks from university.
In a written statement, a spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Canada told CBC the girls’ cases “were not related to the regulatory changes that were made to the International Student Program.” The statement went on to say the program was reviewed in 2011 and the regulation changes were first proposed in 2012.
The women returned to Regina in June, 2014 to fanfare from supporters at the airport, including the University president. Today, Timmons says the women’s perseverance to complete their studies is a testament to their courage. She doesn’t regret throwing her support and the support of the university behind them all along.