Surjit Bhandal, the 84-year-old Saanich woman whose family successfully fought for her to be able to stay in Canada, has been granted permanent resident status.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada decided in 2013 to let Bhandal stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, but Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca MP Randall Garrison said getting permanent residency means Bhandal and her family can finally be sure she will not be deported to India.
Canadian law does not consider aunts close enough family members for reunification, but in this case, Surjit raised the two boys from birth because their mother was disabled. Although she’s their mother’s sister-in-law, they call Surjit mother.
But because she was not their birth mother, the nephews could not sponsor her for permanent residence status. Garrison took up the Bhandals’ cause in 2012.
The family has also had support from the Sikh community and a number of organizations, and more than 5,000 letters and emails of support were sent to Ottawa.
“Like all too many families, the Bhandals have had to live with uncertainty for far too long before getting a decision,” Garrison said in a statement.
“It’s sad that it took such intense lobbying and nearly three years to get this positive decision.”