Beating the system


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I write because I feel like I stumbled into a dirty secret. And I feel a bit weird.

I just witnessed a fake marriage.

Over the past year I’ve heard bits and pieces of a friend at work’s saga. Her sister has been trying to immigrate to Canada. And it’s been a loooooong process. They had a whirlwind wedding where her Canadian husband flew in for the nuptials and jetted back to Montreal as soon as the party was over.

This colleague’s sister and aunt (who lives in Montreal too) started jumping over the mounds of paperwork and through every bureaucratic hoop Citizenship and Immigration Canada have placed in the way of every would-be Canadian. And after months of waiting, she landed an interview. After more months of waiting, she was denied. Via letter. Why do they always send the bad news in a letter?
It stated (essentially) that they didn’t believe her marriage was real. She was using it as a ticket to Canada. Of course I was appalled at the assumptions! How dare they make these judgment calls after a 1/2 hour interview with a girl through a translator. But after probing my colleague, I’m shocked in a new way.
Citizenship Canada was right.
She was using her marriage to get to the country. And now she’s filing for a divorce – because the dream is deflated and the chances of winning an appeal are slim. She might as well get on with her life (an maybe try again with another foreigner instead?) 
Whoa.
The whole thing makes me feel weird inside. Like I’m stuck in a bad movie. Like I know too much. Like my idealism that humanity is really good and wonderful is actually a sham. 
I’m disappointed. It makes my skin crawl. It was the last thing I expected my colleague and her family to take part in. Getting married just for a permanent residence card? Really? Was it that worth it?  
And then I realize I shouldn’t judge. Because for 28 years I’ve had NO CLUE how lucky I am. I dare not call the country where I grew up a blessing because so many others around the world have not been “blessed” in the same way. And I don’t believe that God plays favourites.
People in Cambodia desperately want a future. And for many of them, they look to Australia or the US or Canada or Europe for those opportunities. And here I am. A tried and true Canadian. Grown up in the comfort of universal health care and multiculturalism and a charter of rights and freedoms and one of the best education systems in the world. And I haven’t even been thankful for it.
So no conclusions. And I still feel weird. But I am more thankful than before. And I want to share that with others.  And that’s a step in the right direction…. 
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