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Penelakut Islander gets to stay here

Long-time Penelakut Islander Richard Jerman (at top, with his family) was expected to be granted permanent Canadian residency by Ottawa after outcry about his arrest by the feds in December. - Courtesy: Jerman family
Long-time Penelakut Islander Richard Jerman (at top, with his family) was expected to be granted permanent Canadian residency by Ottawa after outcry about his arrest by the feds in December.
— image credit: Courtesy: Jerman family

Penelakut Island grandfather Richard Jerman can stay in Canada.

Citizen and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander ended a three-month nightmare for Jerman, when his permanent residency application was approved in principle Feb. 25.

Jerman was arrested as an illegal immigrant Dec. 11 at his home on the island formerly called Kuper. He was unavailable for comment by press time. However, Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May, who took on his case, said she’s thrilled by the outcome.

“I’m very grateful minister Chris Alexander has granted permanent residency status for Richard. It was a real injustice what he went through, and it’s an enormous relief it’s been resolved,” the Green party leader and lawyer told the News Leader Pictorial. “A lot of people worked very hard on this case.”

Without any major health or criminal-conduct concerns, Jerman’s residency was expected to be finalized soon.

That would be good news to Jerman, 60, a 37-year Penelakut resident who was hauled to holding cells in Victoria Dec. 11, then to a Vancouver Airport lockup Dec. 12, before being was released on a $500 bond Dec. 13.

May called Alexander to help prevent Jerman from being kicked out of Canada within 24 hours — which could have happened under new national deportation rules.

Jerman’s ordeal stemmed from his false belief he had permanent residency after settling so long ago on Penelakut with wife, Maria George.

The community pillar received no government notice, nor letters about his non-residency status before the Dec. 11 arrest by Canadian border agents.

“I also have all the different documents: a (B.C.) Care Card, and a SIN number,” taxpayer Jerman told the Leader in December.

He had also crossed the border various times over the years, with no reason to question his residency status, he explained.

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