She has a bright future, but Canada doesn’t want them

Elle a un brillant avenir, mais le Canada n’en veut pas

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Leony Pavithra is considered by many as the immigrant model, the kind of person that Canada needs. It is a bright, studious and speaks fluent French. She and her family will, however, be evicted on Sunday.

At school, Leony Pavithra Lawrence has won a prize, even if French is his third language. His motivation is such that its exploits are rendered up to the president of the Commission scolaire de Montréal.

At the store where she earns $ 12 per hour, his boss called it ” stupid work “.

She has been accepted to cegep in a demanding program in order to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor. And the boss of his brother, who didn’t know, lent him $ 15,000 for that she continues her studies.

But over his head hangs a sword of Damocles. She and her family will be deported to Sri Lanka on Sunday, after having exhausted all their appeals, such as asylum-seekers.

Last resort

The last hope of the Lawrence is the prime minister Justin Trudeau, who is also their member of parliament. They sent him a letter and are still awaiting a response.

“The staff at the constituency office of the prime minister has been in regular communication since a long time with the family and answered their questions “, he just say yesterday Cameron Ahmad of the office of Mr. Trudeau.

This is the same prime minister who wanted to “welcome” asylum seekers a few months before the massive influx of haitian migrants at the border this past summer. Most of them do not speak French.


Tiny, sweet and polite, Leony Pavithra Lawrence could pass for much younger than his 21 years. She plays the guitar and loves to sing.

“It is fantastic. I call it “my beast” work. She always gives the best of herself. “– His boss Richard Beausoleil

But do not be fooled by appearances. Behind his paces juveniles, its determination is of iron. She finished her secondary education last spring, with the status as one of the more precarious a person can have in Canada : that of undocumented migrants.

His overall average is 89 %, and 94 % in mathematics and 85 % in French, according to his transcript.

It hosts The Journal , in the company of his family in the living room of their small apartment in the district Park-Extension, in which is hung a painting depicting Christ. His two sisters have the same first name of baptism, that she, a bit like the Marie in Quebec. Leony Venithra is her twin, while Leony Dharusha is the youngest, 17-year-old. They are called thus by their nickname : Pavi, Vinnie and Dharusha. Their older brother Leon, 25 years old, lives in another apartment with his wife and baby of four months.

Under threat of death

Elle a un brillant avenir, mais le Canada n’en veut pas

Leony Pavithra alongside her sisters Dharusha (left) and Vinnie (centre).

“I’ve never seen a person as strong as her,” says Vinnie about his twin. Even when she is exhausted, she wants to finish the job. She will never give up anything “.

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Leony Pavithra was born in Sri Lanka in 1995. The family fled the South Asia in 2012, after several members had been threatened with death. To avoid harm to their safety, the parents prefer that the circumstances that pushed them to leave their native country are not published.

Civil war

According to Amnesty international, Sri Lanka has been marked by a civil war long of 26 years. Even if the conflict ended in 2009, cases of torture and enforced disappearances continued to be reported in the past few years, says the organization on its web site.

Leony Pavithra arrives in the United States by airplane in September 2012. She and her family cross then walk to the border and ask for asylum in Canada. She was 16 years old.

She is enrolled in a reception class in high school Lucien-Pagé, Montreal. She does talk while the tamil, his mother tongue, and English. Not a word of French.


Honored by the CSDM for his perseverance

Elle a un brillant avenir, mais le Canada n’en veut pas

Leony Pavithra (center) when she received her award from the Commission scolaire de Montreal last June. In the company of Frantz Benjamin (left), his father, Stéphane Richard, Catherine Harel Bourdon, Lorraine Pagé and Stephanie Bellenger-Heng (right).

“In class, I was simply asked to say my name, but I had no idea of what I wanted,” she said. After a year in a reception class, she is considered too old to stay in high school. In 2013, it is therefore at the adult education centre Gédéon-Ouimet. She will live there for four years.

“It was a student, hard working and studious,” recalls Stéphane Richard, the director of the centre. “She was very playful, always in a good mood. “

And this, in spite of its migratory path difficult. His family was denied refugee status, even after a call. In 2015, they have even received a date of reference, that they were able to cancel until this fall.

However, they cannot be classified as illegal immigrants because they are not hiding from the authorities. All members of the family have a work permit.

Wasting his time

For more than two years, Leony Pavithra is content to follow the course ” French in transition “, a sort of reception class for adults, the only one that is free for adults without legal status.

“At the beginning, I had no interest in French. Better I became, the more I began to appreciate the language. “

But the more time passes, the more she is eager to follow other subjects, such as science and mathematics to complete her secondary education.

“Some say to me :’ Loose the school, you lose your time”. But I can’t let go of the school. I want to become a doctor ! ” exclaimed she.

In 2015, it starts to follow other courses than the French, but to do this, she must pay tuition as international students, and children of diplomats. The bill runs around $ 1000 per month.

Financial worries

It is also in 2015 as the father of Leony Pavithra loses his job. The household then depends entirely on the income of the mother and the girls.

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She works approximately 30 hours per week in a warehouse to help ends meet. She then puts the money earned to his family, until his father found a new job in 2016 as a manager in a trucking company.

It is not the question for her to drop out of school, but his financial situation does not allow him to pay for the lessons.

She managed to find a solution with the management of the training centre : with the help of textbooks and exercise books, she will be able to learn by itself. Therefore, it does not have to pay for the course, but only for the exams, that is about 250 $ in total, she said.

“This is not a common practice “, says Mr. Richard.

“But she was very self-sufficient “, he remembers. Also, a teacher at the center helped her to volunteer from time to time when she has questions.

“When I study, I forget to eat,” she says, laughing.

The fervor she puts into her studies, she also puts in his job at the warehouse Sigvaris, a firm compression stockings medical. “I love this company. It is a second home. “

There she worked with her sister Vinnie, and about a dozen other employees for a salary of $ 12 per hour.

“My mother sometimes needs to call me and tell me : “Can you please go home ?” Try to make me work on Saturdays, or asks me to stay longer, I will. I find it hard to leave the job when I’m at the warehouse, so imagine if I’m a doctor, ” she said.

Besides, his superior, Richard Beausoleil is full of praise to his place. “It is fantastic. I call it “my beast” work. She always gives the best of herself. “

It embodies the immigrant model, the kind of people Canada needs, according to him.

Rare case

Leony Pavithra dream of becoming a doctor since she was 14 years old. “You’ll laugh, but at the time, I wanted to just wear the lab coat. I thought that doctors had the air cool and imposed respect, ” she says.

Except that the dream superficial has turned into a vocation. “With time, I realized that it suited me really. ”

As her grandmother has suffered from cancer, she hopes to specialize in oncology.

“She is tenacious, note Stéphane Richard of the centre Gédéon-Ouimet. She is also empathetic, which is a great quality to have in a doctor. Will she become one ? I don’t know. But it is going to achieve high goals because she is committed to high standards “, he observes.

According to the collectif éducation sans frontières, there are few adults without legal status who manage to complete their secondary education because of the cost. An adult may have to pay around 7000 $ per year if he wants to study full-time, believes the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM).

However, on the approximately 30 000 students of the adult education from the CSDM, only a couple of people are of the foreign students this year.

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“This is the first time that I hear of such a case. Such perseverance, it really is out of the ordinary “, said Stéphane Handfield, a lawyer specializing in immigration law.

Return elevator

Leony Pavithra has also been honoured with a prize for the CSDM for his perseverance. In June, she posed in the company of the president Catherine Harel Bourdon on the occasion of the award ceremony at the city hall.

It is supposed to enter at Ahuntsic college in January. She has been accepted to the program of the sciences of nature, considered to be one of the profiles pre-university the more demanding.

However, it will still pay the same fee as international students, or about $ 13,000 a year. For help, Louis Ladouceur, co-owner of the Hotel Bonaparte, and proposed to him to lend is $ 15,000. Even if he doesn’t know.

Mr. Ladouceur is in fact the boss of his brother Leon, who works as an auditor of the night in the hotel.

“In my life, I have been in a position where people have helped me. It is a back lift, ” says Mr. Ladouceur. He knows enough of the brother to be fully trust the Lawrence family.

“Post-secondary education, it is completely inaccessible for asylum seekers, says Steve Baird, of the collectif éducation sans frontières. It is pretty sad. Our society is deprived of professional brilliant. “

In September, Leony Pavithra has received his study permit from the federal government, which allows him to study in Canada as a foreign. She thought she was able to stay in the country even if his family was expelled. It was in error.

Two weeks ago, the notice of referral has fallen : December 3rd (Sunday), everyone will have to leave Canada.

“I have not cried. I do not cry easily, ” she confesses.

His little sister Dharusha had almost completed high school in French. His photos of the aim of were already taken. It will take several years to learn everything all over again in tamil.

Nobody has started to make boxes, admits Leony Pavithra. “I believe that this will not be real until they come to the airport. “

She hopes to return

Elle a un brillant avenir, mais le Canada n’en veut pas

Leony Pavithra Lawrence in the entrance of the apartment Parc-Extension that she will have to leave Sunday.

In theory, the people returned are banned in the country for two years or five years and sometimes for life, unless you get special permission from the minister of Immigration, says lawyer Stéphane Handfield.

Despite the uncertainty, Leony Pavithra hope with all my heart to return to Montreal for the beginning of its session in January. Even if she must make the agonizing choice to live away from his family.

“I find it scary that they have to go,” said Louis Ladouceur.

In the meantime, Leony Pavinthra continues to make each day at work. Because she likes to work.

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