The Ceremony We Never Had

It took us five years and four days, but we finally did it! We had our ‘wedding’ ceremony. Our big day came…and then went so fast. I’m so happy we have this video.

After fighting for so long, it is so nice to be able to share our love and joy instead of our struggles and sorrow.

Thank you to everyone who made this day so special.

With love Leslie & Noreddine

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If I don’t agree with you it doesn’t make me an idiot! It also doesn’t make me wrong, ignorant, uninformed, misinformed, lazy, lacking factual information or even lacking a brain.

Recent events have made me think of why I started this blog in the first place. It was to honour my father who passed away. He used to say, “Opinions are like assholes; everybody’s got one!” He liked to debate people, mainly about the Bible and how to interpret it, but he also understood that his was not the only opinion that existed in the world and so not everyone would agree with him. Of course that didn’t stop him from trying to sway the opinion of others who did disagree with him. I didn’t always like how he went about it.  While I appreciated that he was well informed and fought for what he believed in, I felt that he had a very aggressive debate style. However, I don’t ever remember him name-calling when the person didn’t cave in and agree with him.

I like to hope that most people can understand that everyone of us is entitled to our own opinions and that we won’t always agree with one other and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Of course, that hasn’t been my experience over the course of my lifetime. At many different times in my life when I have disagreed with someone, I have been met with name calling and what I like to refer to as thought-bullying. I have been called an idiot, stupid, misinformed and ignorant after which the person will then yell what they deem as their evidence at me and then impatiently insist that I respond to ‘the facts’ they have presented. Inevitably when I do respond and it’s not an immediate acquiescence of my former belief or opinion, I am again met with vitriolic rebukes.

When I have pushed back against these types of rebukes I have often met with more name calling and the accusation that I’m the one with a closed mind, who has never met a fact in my life that I agreed with and that I must therefore be very uninformed and ignorant. When I am met with a person who disagrees with my opinion by yelling at me or saying that it’s people like me who are refusing to have an open mind or actual debate about reality and what reality really looks like then I have to wonder if true debate is really what they are seeking.  In my experience, there is no true or real debate to be had with someone who yells ‘THE TRUTH’ at you like their opinion IS THE TRUTH. All that person has wanted in all the times I have met them is someone to tell them how right they really are.

I may not always like it when someone disagrees with me, but I do my best to accept it. I can assure you that if I do engage with you in a debate about a subject that I will indeed do my best to listen to everything you are saying to me, consider it thoughtfully and weigh it against my own experiences and the facts I know at the time. I may even sleep on it to ensure that I’ve not minimized my own opinion, your opinion or devalued what you or I have said. Sometimes, I check in with someone I trust to get their feedback on my own rationale and reasoning. After all that I may change my mind, but sometimes even after listening to everything that has been said, sleeping on it and thinking about it long and hard, I may still disagree with you. That does not make me a close-minded, misinformed idiot.  Choosing to call me any or all of those names for disagreeing with you says more about who you are as a person or as someone insisting that you are seeking true debate than it ever will about me.

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When I married an Algerian in 2011 I knew there would be a process we had to go through to allow him to come into Canada and I understood it might take up to a year to get through that process.  Before we started that process I contacted an Immigration Expert, my ICCRC representative, who spoke with me for almost 2hrs without charging me.  I called him because it was important to me that I understand and follow all the laws and rules as I believed that doing everything the right way would mean that our immigration sponsorship process would run smoothly and quickly in our favour.

It was a complete shock to me when our application was initially denied. It was traumatically heartbreaking and emotionally torturous when the ADR Representative declined to overturn the original decision leaving us with no other alternative but to go to a full appeal hearing.  When we won our appeal I was so overwhelmingly happy and overjoyed that I would be able to live my life with my husband in my own country.  But here we are over 8 months later and CIC still has not issued a visa to my husband.  It is unbelievable to me and the pain it has caused is unrelenting. Every day I wake up alone and wonder how this could happen in Canada.

Throughout this process I have tried to get answers from the Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander, which yielded several ridiculous letters espousing the fairness of the system from the Ministerial Inquiries Division, but NOTHING from Mr. Alexander himself.

I have also tried to get support from my Federal MP, Bernard Trottier, repeatedly.  I was told before my appeal that it would be unfair if my MP did anything for me and that it was not possible anyway as I was, in their words, ‘fighting the government’, with my appeal.  After winning my appeal I have had some help from the office manager for Mr. Trottier getting status updates from CIC, but again, NOTHING from Bernard Trottier himself.

My latest email (below) was sent on Friday August 21st, one day before the 8-month anniversary of winning my appeal and again I have heard NOTHING and this Conservative Government offers me NOTHING except unending heartache and pain.

Dear Mr. Trottier,

As of tomorrow it will be 8 FULL MONTHS since I won my IRB appeal against the very wrong decision of the CIC to prevent my husband from coming to Canada.  Do you think it is reasonable that 8 months after I win my appeal and a judge said that CIC must continue to process my file and let my husband into the country that we should still be waiting to be reunited?


I appreciate all the help that Igor has provided. HOWEVER, do you understand that CIC REFUSES to provide me with any answers?  The only way I get to know the status of my file is if Igor or someone from your office contacts CIC on my behalf because they are obligated to provide an MPs office with an answer, but they don’t have to even talk to me except to provide me with a form email telling me to be patient.  I’VE BEEN PATIENT ENOUGH DON’T YOU THINK?


When does ANYONE hold CIC accountable for this delay? DO you or anyone in your party even understand, care or comprehend that I am a person, my husband is a person and this is tearing our lives apart?


Before my appeal I was told that YOU could not help me because I was ‘fighting the Canadian government’ with my appeal. Now that I have won my appeal it seems that all you CHOOSE to do to help me is provide me with status updates.  Do YOU understand that being told I just have to wait until the organization that made the bad decision in the first place decides to get off it’s ass and do it’s job to let my husband in the country isn’t really helpful in the end. I and my husband are still being kept apart and the pain and stress of this situation is still impacting our health and well being.

My ICCRC, who worked for CIC for almost 20 years before helping applicants such as myself for over 20 years doesn’t think this is normal or usual. He’s been around long enough to know from experience. So, in this election year would you like to know what I think about this?

I think this system is BROKEN and I think that those who have put me (and many others) through this unprecedented painful time in my life don’t deserve to hold the positions of power they have because they have shown no care or concern for the pain and suffering their policies inflict on the people they are supposed to serve and whose money pays their salaries. I hold the entire conservative government responsible for this situation. It is the policies of this government that abandoned me in a system that has no accountability for those who work within it and that allows these situations to go on and on and on without an end in sight.  Whether it is because there aren’t enough people working within the system or those who are working within it abuse their power it is YOUR responsibility as a part of the government to do something about it, but in all the time I have been trying to get support YOU have done NOTHING to show me that you care to make a change to this system.

If you really wanted to support and help me and wanted to show me why I should even think about supporting you, then you would do more than just sit on the sidelines every time I try to get help from your office.


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The Never-ending Pain of Waiting

On Friday April 24, 2015 I learned from my MPs office that even though my husband and I won our Immigration Appeal on December 22, 2014 the processing of our file may not be complete until September 2015. My husband cannot come to Canada until this processing is complete.  I cannot even express how devastating this news has been for us, not only because we were expecting to be together this spring, but because the news came to us the day before I was attending a funeral for the 15 year old daughter/granddaughter of family friends who died tragically in a car accident only days before.  And it was the same day that my uncle was being taken in for emergency surgery far from home because he had taken ill while on the road in the US.

It was already a very bad week, made worse by the news that even NOW after winning our appeal the repercussions of the unfounded decision made by the CIC representative over 2 years ago were continuing to impact our lives more than anyone who has not been through it can imagine.

I really don’t understand why the immigration system has been designed to punish those who wish nothing but to follow the proper procedures to bring their loved ones to this country or why there is no accountability when flawed decisions are made.  I was put in a position of being one Canadian fighting the entire Canadian government alone, because my husband had no rights in Canada.  I was told this was fair and equitable by the Immigration Ministers office. How could anyone even suggest this was reasonable?

We are told, ‘Oh, he will be here soon enough’.  I just attended the funeral of a 15 year old with her entire life ahead of her so all I can say to that is NOTHING IS GUARANTEED.  Tomorrow is NOT a guarantee for anyone and so far this process has stolen over 1200 tomorrows from my husband and I and the Immigration Minister’s office has done nothing but tell me how fair the system is while the person who made the decision in my case made no effort to provide any justification for his decision except his ‘feeling’ that my husband married me just to get into Canada.

I am angry that this process continues to keep us apart and I am angrier that no elected representatives in this government will explain to me why there is no accountability for unfounded decisions made by CIC representatives.  Why did it take going to my MPs office to get an answer out of CIC about the status of our file when my Immigration Representative had been trying to get an answer for weeks?  All I have right now is unanswered questions and an empty space in my bed.

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Do you remember those cute Valentine’s day cards that we used to exchange with our classmates in elementary school?  I had almost forgotten them, with their cuddly bears or cartoon characters often holding hearts or balloons with friendly sayings in them like, “BE MY VALENTINE!”.

I remember crafting heart envelopes out of colourful construction paper as a sort of desk mailbox for all the cards I would get from the rest of the class.  It was probably the last time I really enjoyed Valentine’s day.  It was fun to see who I would get a card from and which ones would have my favourite characters on them.  As I remember it today, it felt like we were all included as we all got a few cards from our classmates.

Of course, as a person who spent most of my 20’s and 30’s as a singleton, Valentine’s day was just a reminder of my singleness and the notion that being single somehow made me a less important member of society.  Having discussed it with my friends over the years I know I’m not the only one who noticed all the subtle messages.

Family members might expect you to volunteer more often to help out with children or older family member support as you have nothing more important to do, co-workers look to you to take holiday shifts because you don’t have the same responsibilities outside of work and news stories reporting losses of life hint at the fact that it’s a little less tragic when the person who died had no dependents or significant other.  I was often accused of thinking I was more important than the mom’s I knew as they were basically telling me how unimportant my single life was to them.  It was a ridiculous accusation to me as the thought that always ran through my head was, “Man I’m not cut out for motherhood right now. That looks really hard!”  But I digress.

I finally embraced my complete lack of interest in Valentine’s day in my mid-thirties and learned to make plans to pamper myself or spend quality time with friends or family and then something happened I never expected.  On Valentine’s day 2011 I planned to have a Skype call with a man I had met through online dating and had been talking to since November 2010.  He was going to be home on leave from his army service and it was an opportunity for us to speak without the need for him to rush back to his base, which was an hour walk from where he could access the internet.

He had already made it clear how much he cared about me and I knew I had strong feelings about him, but I wasn’t sure if I loved him. When he came online we talked for a few minutes before he asked me if I knew what day it was. With him being from Algeria, I didn’t know if Valentine’s day was celebrated there so I said, “What day is it?”  And in his adorable French-Arabic accent he said to me, “It is the day of LOVE and I LOVE you!”

I didn’t admit it to myself at the time, but that was the moment I fell in love with the man who would become my husband.  Noreddine won my heart on Valentine’s day of all days!

So here I am four years later, still waiting for the Canadian government to finalize the paperwork to let my husband come to Canada so we can be together once and for all, having new feelings about this pseudo holiday.  I’m still not a big fan of Valentine’s day in and of itself, but February 14th has become my pseudo anniversary. It will always be the day I was given the gift to love and be loved.

Love to you today and everyday.

Save Me

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A Christmas Miracle – Latest Immigration News

On December 22, 2014 I received the best Christmas present I could ask for – After 3 long years of waiting and fighting Canada Immigration, the IRB judge ruled in our favour, allowing our appeal so that Noreddine will FINALLY be permitted to come to Canada. My heart is filled with so much joy even as my body is giving in to complete and utter exhaustion.

Of course there are still a bunch of I’s to be dotted and T’s to be crossed before Noreddine officially comes into the country, but now our wait will be one of inevitability rather than the unending unknown. The judge has ruled and CIC cannot change that. The only thing left is another medical check and police check before the Visa is issued.

Thank you to everyone who has offered support, well wishes, good thoughts and vibes.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all! May all your Christmas wishes come true just as mine has.

Happy to be together

So happy together in Algeria – next stop Canada!

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Immigration Update

Hello friends.  It’s been a while.

I wish I could share with you that Noreddine and I have had our Immigration Appeal hearing and have won it such that he can come to Canada now. But that is not the case. We still have yet to be told when our Appeal hearing will be.  Our Immigration Representative has been told that we may not get a date until November or December 2014 because the Immigration Review Board (IRB) is dealing with a large BACKLOG. After our ADR hearing, back in July 2013 we expected that we would be having our Appeal hearing a year later. Now July 2014 has arrived and we are still waiting and still being kept apart.

December 6, 2014 will be our 3rd wedding anniversary and here we are still waiting to be together; both of us struggling with depression and living life separate even though we are married and so desperately want to be together. I long for a time when we can get annoyed with one another for stealing the blankets or leaving dirty clothes strewn across the bedroom floor as much as I long for the times when we can just cuddle up on the couch and watch TV together or go for a stroll hand-in-hand around the neighbourhood.

The hardest part we both face is that there really is NO reason for why we are being kept apart. We were told, in a form letter, by the immigration representative who made the decision that he just didn’t feel like Noreddine loved me and, therefore, we would not qualify for family sponsorship as he must have just married me to get into Canada. It’s hard to comprehend that such a statement could be made and used as a reason to reject our application with absolutely NO facts or evidence to support it.

If you believe that Canada Immigration (CIC) has to actually PROVE what they say when they reject an application then you would be mistaken…just as I was when I thought that what happened to Noreddine and I JUST COULDN’T HAPPEN. There was no evidence offered.  We offered a lot of evidence of the legitimacy of our relationship and letters from friends and family on both sides, but that was all ignored in favour of one guys opinion that had very little to do with actual fact and more to do with his personal bias.

On February 25th I wrote a third letter to the Immigration Minister regarding our situation and have yet to hear anything back from him. Of course in reality I have never had a single response from him at all so it does not surprise me.  The government doesn’t care how broken this system is as long as they can point to some statistics or metrics that they can highlight as being ‘favourable’ in public opinion. It doesn’t matter that families are torn apart and lives ruined because there isn’t a public outcry about it…and in a country that is supposedly built on immigration I have to say that I don’t understand why more people aren’t outraged by it. Of course I wouldn’t have believed it could happen until it happened to me.

Thank you Jennifer Molinaro (@JenMolinaro) for your supportive tweet and for helping me find my voice again.

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