TORONTO, ON: MARCH 25, 2014
Desperate to escape sexual and physical abuse from a former male partner and years of harassment from her community for being a lesbian, Eugenia Flavius used a dating website in St. Lucia to find someone who would pay for her to come to Canada. She ended up in a Toronto women’s shelter after she was assaulted by a Canadian man who had agreed to help her with a visa extension.
Female refugees travelling alone are an extremely vulnerable demographic and are often so afraid to return home that they enter into dangerous situations. Ms. Flavius did not know that she could make a refugee claim based on her sexual orientation until she arrived at the Evangeline Shelter in Toronto’s west end.
Ms. Flavius made her claim prior to changes to the Canadian immigration system in December, 2012. Under the former “legacy” system, it can take years to have a claim heard. Over the past two years, she has built a life for herself in Toronto, but could lose it all if she is denied asylum when she finally receives a hearing.
(Eugenia Flavius finally received a hearing in October 2014 and her claim was accepted)