By Jessica Lovell
There was an air of sadness around Our Lady of Lourdes high school Thursday as students and staff were forced to admit defeat in their fight to stop the deportation of a fellow Lourdes Crusader.
“It’s a sad day. It’s a day of mourning,” said Lourdes vice-principal Marty Bell.
Grade 11 student Nallely Enriquez-Colin, along with her older sister Jessica Enriquez-Colin and their mother Maria-Elena Colin Gonzalez, were to board a plane Thursday to return to their native Mexico, in spite of fears for their safety.
With work permits expired and an application for refugee status denied, the family applied to be allowed to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. That application is in the queue, but in the meantime, the family is required to return to Mexico to await its review – which could take years.
Nallely came to Canada with her family five years ago. They were trying to start a new life after being kidnapped three years before that – an incident that left them feeling unable to go back to life as usual.
Rallying around Nallely, her school in Guelph mounted a letter-writing and social media campaign to convince the government to let the family stay in Canada until their application had been reviewed.
“We sent I don’t know how many letters and petitions to Jason Kenney,” said Bell.
In addition to the letters and petitions, the school hit up Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism on Twitter and Facebook; there were also meetings with local MP Frank Valeriote, acting Liberal leader Bob Ray, and a brief meeting with Defence Minister Peter MacKay during a bus trip to Ottawa.
“We’ve talked to lots of people,” said Bell. “We never got any response from the Minister of Immigration,” he added.
With a noticeable quaver in his voice, Bell told of how the school was carrying on with classes as usual, while principal Mike MacPherson and some teachers had taken time off to be with the family.
“I’m a little emotional just talking about it,” he said.
The school community is hopeful that the family will be able to return once its case is reviewed, he said.
“Nallely was a model citizens here,” Bell said. “When she was at Lourdes, she was a leader in the school.”
He said he hopes students don’t begin to feel jaded about the fact that their efforts had failed.
Nallely leaves behind another older sister, Joselyn Enriquez-Colin. As a university of Guelph graduate, the older girl was able to apply for permanent residency in Canada under an application separate from the rest of her family.
It is clear from the messages on Twitter, posted with #protectionfornallelynow, that the community is unhappy about the outcome.
“So upset with the decision, will continue to keep you in my prayers Nallely <3,” said one tweet from Juliana Major.
Another, from a user going by Kayondo, questioned the process. “I don’t understand. Who decides who gets heard? Who gets approved and denied? Disgusted by our government,” it said.
Another, by the name of veronika jarvis, had a more optimistic outlook. “Have a safe vacation Nallely <3 see you home soon,” said her post.