Deportation of Herman Oyagak Deferred
December 2, 2021
We are pleased to announce that late yesterday afternoon, Herman’s immediate removal from Canada was cancelled. As Herman will not be deported at this time, OKT has not filed a constitutional challenge in Federal Court.
We want to thank in particular the community of Aklavik who rallied around Herman, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, and Canadians across the country who connected with Herman’s story and reached out to their local politicians to express their support for Herman.
We remain concerned that Canadian border authorities felt it appropriate to put Herman and his family through the stress of impending deportation, waiting until his lawyers threatened to launch a constitutional challenge to immigration legislation before backing down moments before the challenge was set to be filed.
It is important to bear in mind that the cancellation of Herman’s deportation from Canada is a temporary measure. Herman remains subject to an active deportation order, and will have to fight to prove to Canadian immigration authorities that he deserves to remain in Canada. The Canada Border Services Agency could move to deport him again at any moment.
We certainly hope that Herman’s application to remain will be accepted, and that he will not again find himself on the verge of deportation and separation from his family and community. Canada’s immigration laws must be interpreted in light of the rights of Indigenous persons to engage in their traditional practices, even where that involves crossing borders in order to hunt, fish, participate in celebrations, marry, and engage in other cross-familial relationships or activities.
Herman’s case is emblematic of the harm that Canada’s immigration laws cause to Indigenous peoples. While we are glad that he has been granted temporary reprieve, we continue to call on Canada to take actions to ensure that this situation does not happen again. Specifically,
- We are calling on Canada to recognize the Jay Treaty
- We are calling on Canada to ensure its immigration laws are consistent with inherent Indigenous rights recognized under United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), and under Canada’s own constitution
For more information, contact:
Nick Sowsun, OKT LLP (legal counsel)