A one-year-old girl from Sierra Leone — who was adopted in July by a Quebec man — appears to have become the first bureaucratic victim of Ottawa’s decision to suspend all visa applications from West African countries devastated by the Ebola epidemic.
Longueuil resident Claude Perras, who adopted Ella on July 2 in Sierra Leone, tried and failed twice to obtain a travel visa for his daughter to accompany him back home. In October, he filed a third request in Freetown — this time, on humanitarian grounds — for a temporary resident permit for Ella but has yet to hear from Canadian immigration officials.
The process for such a permit usually takes 12 days. The Canadian High Commission in Accra, Ghana, which processes all such applications from West Africa, received Perras’s carefully prepared documents on Oct. 8 — nearly a month ago. Since then, he has not received any information on his daughter’s request despite entreaties from the office of Perras’s MP for Longueuil, Pierre Nantel.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Perras said in a phone interview from Sierra Leone. “I am able to go back to Canada, but my daughter cannot because she carries a Sierra Leone passport. Of course, this is very stressful and discouraging.”
Perras was forced to cancel a scheduled return flight to Canada at a loss of $2,000, and is worried he might not be able to attend planned job interviews in Quebec while his daughter’s case is in bureaucratic limbo.
Many public health officials have already denounced Alexander’s decision as discriminatory and ineffective. Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, last week publicly questioned the wisdom behind Australia’s similar decision to restrict admissions of visitors from countries battling Ebola.
Ella was born on June 11, 2013. Her biological parents, who do not live together, are each 14 years old. Perras, who has worked for many years for non-profit organizations, was introduced to Ella at the Hillside Daycare Centre in Freetown last year.