Canada turning into new USA for Kenyans in diaspora

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Daily Nation

This year’s Madaraka Day celebrations on June 1 will be particularly special to Kenyans living in Canada.

Apart from commemorating the day that Kenya attained self-rule from the United Kingdom on December 12, 1963, these Kenyan sojourners will also be joining the rest of Canada in celebrating 150 years of its independence.

The Canadian government has therefore reached out to it’s numerous immigrant communities in Canada through embassies and high commissions in Ottawa with a request that, as they celebrate their home country’s special days throughout the year, they should also remember Canada’s 150 years since the founding of the country.

One of the community leaders that the Kenyan High Commission in Ottawa has reached out to help in bringing Kenyans together to mark these two very important occasions is Kenyan born, Toronto resident, Maryanne Obwaka.

As the Vice-president of the Kenyan Community in Ontario (KCO) based in Toronto, Ms Obwaka has taken the request from Mr John Lanyasunya, the Kenyan High Commission to Canada very seriously and, therefore, spends most of the time on the phone reaching out to numerous Kenyan groups in Canada explaining at length how they could be involved in what is likely to be one of the biggest Madaraka Day celebrations ever.

But of late, a lot of her time is being consumed by long distance calls from Kenyans spread around the world, especially in the US and the Middle East, inquiring about how they could migrate to Canada.

“The calls come in at any time even past midnight from Kenyans not just in the US but from Kenya and the middle East. Kenyans want to know not just how they could migrate to Canada but also how life is around here generally and of course this has a lot to do with what is happening in the US since President Donald Trump won the elections,” she told Sunday Nation.

LEAVING FOR CANADA

Fearing President Donald Trump’s stepped up deportation raids currently going on, scores of African immigrants among them Kenyans are fleeing the US in the hope of gaining asylum or any other form of immigration status in Canada.

Since Mr Trump’s inauguration day, many people started illegally crossing the largely unguarded 5,500-mile-long border between the two countries braving the dangers posed by deep snow and severe cold in some locations.

It was widely reported in both the national and international press that two men from Ghana suffered frostbite in December due to what one of them described as “very, very intense” cold as they stumbled at night across fields on the border separating the Midwest state of North Dakota from the Canadian province of Manitoba.

One of the men had to have all his fingers amputated, while surgeons in Canada were able to save only the thumbs of his companion.

It is being daily reported that many people of Somali origin are also traversing unsanctioned and unmanned routes into Manitoba.

The bordering state of Minnesota hosts an estimated 50,000 Somalis, some of whom do not have legal status in the US and are worried that they may soon be deported.

“With the election of President Trump, the people who have always forgotten that there is another country in the north called Canada now appreciate the values that Canada offers,” said Dr Ken Simiyu, a Programme Officer with Grand Challenges Canada.