Two years ago, Lainie Towell married a musician from Guinea.
The couple moved back to Ottawa on New Year’s Day 2007.
After only one month in Canada, Towell’s husband disappeared. She didn’t see him again until a few weeks ago, when he was issued a removal order from Canada.
However, as a permanent resident, he has appealed the order. Meanwhile, Towell remains his sponsor.
If her husband goes on social assistance, the government sends Towell the bill.
As she sees it, their wedding was just a doorway for him to get into Canada.
To draw attention to her problem, she put her wedding dress on again and carried a door in crucifixion-style performance art march from the National Gallery of Canada to Parliament Hill, which Towell titled The Politics of Being Sufi Girl.
“It was difficult for me,” said Towell. “It’s art crossing into life. The inspiration for this piece came from the real life that I’m living.”
Towell is attempting to be relieved of all financial responsibilities for Soumah and wants a clause added to the immigration act that would protect sponsors who are abandoned or fall victim to fraud.
Thousands of men and women fall victim to fraud marriages, according to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
Canada has a network of specialists who deal with marriage sponsorships to ensure they are legitimate, but once someone is past that stage, it is difficult to remove them.
“The sponsored spouse has all sorts of legal rights once they hit Canadian soil and it’s impossible to remove someone like that quickly,” said Kenney.
Kenney said he would like to crack down on this kind of practice but people have to take responsibility as well and make sure they are getting into relationships that they can really trust.