Reprieved from deportation, Edmonton nurse receives both kind offers and a $10K legal tab

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Between his pre-removal risk assessment and the application to live in Canada, a man called Sue is facing $10,000 in legal bills.

On the upside, a total stranger offered to marry him to keep him in the country.

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Temporarily saved from deportation to Uganda and its harsh penalties for LGBTQ identification, Sue is still counting his blessings.

“The responses have been very, very supportive. Generally, people have been sympathetic and expressed concern,” Sue said.

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“It’s a good response, and I’m 100 per cent grateful to the Canadian community for the encouragement.”

Offers coming in via email have included a place to stay and some household items, including a set of leather chairs for the dining room set he sold to prepare in advance of the threatened December deportation.

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More than $1,300 had been raised on his new GoFundMe site, where he explained his plight.

“Uganda is perilous for LGBTQI+ individuals like me due to its harsh anti-homosexuality laws, threatening imprisonment or even death based solely on sexual orientation. Unfortunately, after an unsuccessful refugee process, I faced the terrifying prospect of imminent deportation,” he wrote.

“However, a ray of hope emerged when, at the eleventh hour, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada intervened. Through ministerial instructions, I was granted a temporary resident permit and an open work permit for eight months, preventing my deportation.

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“This fortunate turn of events was possibly influenced by a community of people across Canada who came together to advocate for me to stay in Canada, and I am very grateful for that.”

People across Canada have responded to Sue’s story.

“This poor guy will certainly have a horrible life in Uganda or his fate will be worse,” said Tammy in a note to Postmedia.

Mary in Calgary said she was glad Sue’s story had been told.

“I am a great-grandmother … and I would like to contribute to help. I am very happy he is going to be permitted to remain in Canada,” she said.

In Montreal, Rene and Glenn recognized a “true story of being gay.”

“It pains my heart,” they wrote.

“As a Canadian I am so happy to see the wonderful human side of our political and our freedoms we sometimes forget to appreciate … but myself and partner of 36 years must never forget,” they wrote. “If there is something we can do for (Monsieur) Sue, please do not hesitate to let him know we are there for him as his new Canadian family.”

At another end of the offer scale, one man offered his hand in matrimony.

“I would offer marriage if it would work to keep this individual in the country,” he wrote.

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Sue said he was truly touched by the gesture.

“I thank him for thinking about that, that to save me from leaving Canada, they would offer that,” Sue said with a smile. “I don’t take that lightly, it’s a big thing.”

Sue has more than seven months to get his immigration ducks in a row.

That’s more forms to fill out, more legal bills to get it done right.

Taking care of himself means continuing his work as a licensed practical nurse to support himself, soccer for recreation, yoga for exercise and relaxation after coming to the very brink of deportation on Dec. 12.

“Mentally I was quite distressed, emotionally drained,” he said.

Until his immigration to Canada is finalized, Sue is declining to use his full name in the media to protect himself in case he is sent back to Uganda.

“Permanent residency in Canada will give me the best comfort,” he said. “I was almost removed until the government intervened.”

In the meantime, for every letter, every call to an elected official, every dollar contributed to his legal case, Sue said he’s “extremely grateful.”

“I call Canada home now, but I want to call it home permanently,” he said.

He said he suspects there is a permanent rift between him and his family, who stopped paying for his Canadian education when they learned he is gay.

“There’s nothing much you can tell such people, when they say how you are is a curse,” he said.

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