Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic

A Phoenix Named Hanna

When I came to the Barbra Schlifer Clinic to meet with my immigration lawyer, I was running out of hope. I had first met with a private lawyer, whose fees I could not afford. Then, I was directed to another lawyer who I could afford, but who did not understand me, my situation or my experience. I was convinced that my case would not be heard and I would be forced to return to the violence that I had fled in my home country. I had been in Canada as a refugee for a few years at this point. I had become involved in another relationship and had a son with another refugee whose case was not accepted, and who was deported. I was terrified that I would be forced to leave too, and my son forced to stay.

Before I came to Canada, I left my home following years of domestic violence. My husband took our children following our divorce, leaving me with nothing. On account of my status and with so few options available to me to earn enough money to afford a lawyer to get my children back, I became involved in the sex trade. I was held in captivity for years and exposed to violence whenever I tried to leave. Eventually, with the help of a friend, I escaped and came to Canada to live with my sister.

At the Barbra Schlifer Clinic, I worked with an immigration lawyer and was provided with an interpreter from Interpretation Services Toronto. I was able to accurately explain my experience of violence and my fear of returning to my home country. Over the year, I felt as though I transformed. I became more confident that my life had a future. I began to feel hope, love and compassion. I could also see that my son was starting to thrive as well, which filled me with joy.

In early 2018, I succeeded in my refugee claim. I can now focus on building a new life for myself and my son. I am becoming a more confident version of my former self - full of hope, love and compassion. I am making secure connections in my community, now that I know I can, because I now have a place to call home and a compassionate community to support me.

I still visit the Clinic from time-to-time. I love to see those who not only helped me with my claim but encouraged me not to give up hope on the future. My story of violence is one of the thousands the Clinic encounters each year. For me, the Clinic saved my life; it showed me that I was resilient and that I am worth fighting for. Thank you Barbra Schlifer Clinic for giving me my life back.

- Hanna

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