Raza family attains permanent resident status

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Five summers ago, the Raza family sought sanctuary in a Winnipeg church, where they lived for nearly two years.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/06/2011 (4201 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Five summers ago, the Raza family sought sanctuary in a Winnipeg church, where they lived for nearly two years.

On June 1, they finally gained a solid foothold on Canadian soil as permanent residents of Canada.

“That’s great news,” said Rubab Raza, the oldest of Hassan and Kausar Raza’s six children. Now 17, Rubab was 13 when they took refuge in Crescent Fort Rouge United Church to avoid deportation to Pakistan.

At the time, a federal court judge ruled that the family’s refugee claim that they’d face persecution and sectarian violence in Pakistan was “not credible.” They were ordered to leave Canada days after sectarian violence claimed the lives of 100 people near the Razas’ former home of Sialkot in Pakistan.

They holed up in the church, which became their home from Aug. 3, 2006 to Feb. 29, 2008. They moved out after they were granted temporary resident status in January 2008 and were able to leave the church.

When they were living at the church, the children were given special permission to leave the sanctuary to attend school but the parents could not leave for fear they’d be picked up and sent back to Pakistan.

Now that they have permanent resident status, Rubab’s mother can visit her dying mom in Pakistan without the fear she wouldn’t be allowed back into Canada.

Reverend Barb Janes said the congregation rallied to shelter the family, and many volunteers made the Raza’s stay possible. She said they’re grateful to lawyer Ken Zaifman, the Canadian Border Service Agency, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Manitoba Department of Labour and Immigration “for finding a solution that balanced the circumstances of the Raza family and the requirements of the Immigration Act.”

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