Failed refugee with terminal cancer faces deportation
Shawn Pompey receives free care and medications from his oncologist and drug companies, not taxpayers. He has months to live, but CBSA wants to deport him now.
Shawn Pompey knows his liver cancer is terminal, but he wants to stay in Canada, where an oncologist is providing palliative care for free.
By: Nicholas Keung Immigration reporter, Published on Fri Feb 15 2013
Despite his terminal cancer, Shawn Pompey refused handouts and continued to work at a Toronto window factory until January, when he was slated to be deported to St. Vincent.
Pompey, 42, a failed refugee, has been without health care coverage since June, when Ottawa’s new refugee health cuts kicked in, prohibiting unsuccessful asylum seekers awaiting deportation from accessing care.
Fortunately, his oncologist at Brampton Civic Hospital, Dr. Philip Kuruvilla, has continued to treat him for free and managed to get him free medications for his liver cancer through various pharmaceutical companies’ compassionate drug access programs.
Pompey’s dying wish is to remain in Canada and continue with the palliative care he cannot get or afford in St. Vincent.
“This is an advanced incurable malignancy for which the goals of therapy are palliative,” Kuruvilla wrote in a letter on behalf of Pompey, in requesting deferral of his deportation, which will be confirmed next Friday at a meeting with border enforcement officials.
“Shawn has already survived for years with metastatic disease and is running out of treatment options. His survival may be as short as several months, with or without therapy,” Kuruvilla wrote.
Pompey said his father left him and his mother for Canada when he was a baby, and he’d always wanted to look for him. When he saved up enough money as a farm labourer and construction worker, he travelled to Toronto in 2007.
Although his father, a Canadian citizen, had already died of the same cancer in 1998, Pompey reconnected with his two sisters and a brother in Toronto.
He stayed on, making a living under the radar until the day in late 2009 when he was found unconscious by a friend in his Mississauga basement apartment. Taken by ambulance to hospital, he was diagnosed with cancer.
He could not afford the treatment, but at a friend’s suggestion filed an asylum claim to get health care coverage. His claim, based on the harassment of a hostile neighbour, was denied in 2011.
Pompey had worked at a window factory in Etobicoke since he arrived, except for about a year in 2010, when he was too sick to work. He only quit working in January when he was notified of his pending deportation.
“I want to support myself as long as I’m able to,” Pompey said from the home he shares with three other tenants.
Meanwhile, his lawyer, Daniel Kingwell, has asked the Canada Border Services Agency to indefinitely defer Pompey’s removal until a decision is made on his humanitarian application to remain in Canada.
“Mr. Pompey is simply asking to stay here while he fights for his life. He is receiving free treatment and does not cost Canada a penny. In fact, it would cost money to deport him,” Kingwell said.
Rudolph Clarke, Pompey’s pastor at Brampton’s Faith Ministry, likens Pompey’s deportation to sending him to a death sentence. “We just want him to be given a fair chance to live,” he said.