TORONTO, ON: JANUARY 21, 2014
Soraya Hoggarth came to Canada on a tourist visa in an effort to temporarily escape the stress of hiding her sexuality from her loved ones – something that the Jamaican native, a lesbian, has been doing her whole life considering the country’s hostility towards its LGBT community. She is seen here at a women’s shelter in Toronto, where she spent several months after having difficulty renting an apartment.
After she arrived, Soraya struggled to find employment or a way to extend her visa, and travelled to Alberta in search of a job after not having any luck in Ontario. She was unable to find an employer to sponsor her in Alberta, but met a Canadian man out west and explained her situation. He wanted companionship in return for help with her papers, even though she explained that she was a lesbian.
“I became a statistic of an immigrant woman being abused by a Canadian partner. It was perceived that I had no rights because I was not Canadian,” she says. She was physically assaulted and returned to her extended family in Brampton, Ontario.
She was eventually referred to the 519 Church Street Community Centre by a close friend from college. Here she learned about her options to make a refugee claim based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Ms. Hoggarth had her refugee claim accepted and will be allowed to become a permanent resident.