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Hear From a Sanctuary Scholar Student

Hello, I am a Mexican immigrant student at TMU who came to Canada about five years ago in search of a better life and future. My journey has been filled with both hope and challenges, primarily because I reside in Canada with a precarious status. I'd like to share my testimony to shed light on the barriers faced by people and students with precarious status like me.

Coming to Canada changed my life completely. Leaving all my friends and loved ones was the hardest part of it all, knowing that I would be in a Country where the language, people and culture were all new to me was beyond frightening, but the constant reminder of a better life was what kept me pushing forward.

One of the most significant barriers I faced while adjusting was the lack of immigration status meant limited access to essential services. I faced difficulties in obtaining healthcare, education, and even securing a stable job. Many employers were hesitant to hire someone without proper documentation, which forced me into low-paying, under-the-table jobs where exploitation was common. As for education, I did not have access to the same resources a student with the proper documentation would Like OSAP and certain scholarships that required being a Canadian resident. And if it wasn’t for the help of the Sanctuary Scholars program I wouldn’t have been able to continue my education in Canada at all.

Navigating the legal system without immigration status was incredibly daunting. I lived in constant fear of interactions with law enforcement, fearing that even minor infractions could get me in trouble. This fear made it challenging to seek justice when I faced discrimination or exploitation or had little to zero knowledge of what my rights were even as a non-Canadian.

Many people that I have encountered along my journey have helped me a lot like directing me to trusted legal resources or job opportunities, often these people have been through my situation and know the process of obtaining proper documentation in Canada. As diverse and welcoming as TMU has been for me there are still some occasions when many people don’t know the situation and may not be as understanding or helpful even judgmental and discriminatory.

Just like me, there are thousands of undocumented students in Canada facing similar challenges every day. I really hope that by sharing my testimony, we can shed light on the importance of addressing immigration reform, providing pathways to legalization, opening more opportunities for post-secondary education and recognizing the contributions of immigrant students to the vibrant tapestry of Canadian society. We are more than our immigration status; we are resilient individuals who, like so many before us, seek a better life and a chance to contribute positively to the communities we now call home.