BY LILA HOPE-SIMPSON
Juan Pablo is a charming little boy who was one of my nursery school students for several years, until he had to move abruptly with his family to Kurdistan. Why did his family move to Northern Iraq? Because this was one country where Juan Pablo and his three siblings, could be together as a family with their mother and father.
Many local residents know the story by now, but we are still waiting to see if it has a happy ending. The story began in Colombia.
Juan Ramirez fled to Canada over 10 years ago, claiming refugee status. As a ranking officer in the military of Colombia, he witnessed atrocities committed by the military against Colombian citizens and he complained to his senior officers. He was immediately warned in no uncertain terms to forget what he saw and knew. Or else.
In good faith, Juan made has refugee claim to Canada, believing here he would find a safe, fair and sympathetic country. Instead he was accused of committing crimes against humanity, even though there has never been any evidence and there remains to be no evidence. In fact he has certificates from both the civilian government and the Colombian military verifying that he indeed has a clean slate.
In 1999, Juan was deported from Canada, where he went to Spain. He feared for his life too much to return to his native Colombia. Later, with his wife, Dara, he returned to Canada to begin a new refugee claim. While here in Wolfville with his family, he demonstrated to the community that he was not only a devoted and loving father and husband, but a well respected business owner, employer, soccer coach, fitness advocate, volunteer, friend and teacher.
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Where does that leave Juan’s four children? At this time, they are living and going to school here, without their dad while their mother, Dara, continues to advocate to clear Juan’s name and see him back in Canada. Back in Wolfville. Back with his wife and children where his heart belongs.
Juan Ramirez has committed no crimes against humanity. The greatest crime right now is the fact that he is not reunited with his family. Families belong together. As the waiting continues, Juan’s children are celebrating birthdays, playing sports, studying at school, making friends, cleaning their rooms, visiting their grandparents, playing outside and wishing their dad was here with them. Life doesn’t wait. Juan’s children are changing and growing every single day, without a daddy here to cheer them along.
Knowing they have a devoted father who loves them helps a lot. But every kid needs a hug from their dad, and the Ramirez family will not rest until Juan is here with them, back in Wolfville, back home.
Their passionate mission continues and the good news is that YOU can help.
Life doesn’t wait. Juan’s children are changing and growing every single day, without a daddy here to cheer them along. -
The petition states: “There has been a huge injustice here. He has NOT committed crimes against humanity and we need this label removed by Minister Kenney. We need Minister Kenney to provide him with a Temporary Residency Permit. We need Juan Ramirez to be able to live his life with his wife and four kids here in Canada! Four children should not be forced to live without their innocent father!”
Sign the petition, post it onto your Facebook wall so your friends can join, too. We know how effective this type of support has proven to be in world events. You have the power to reunite these four young children, aged two to ten, with their dad, who is innocent.
I want to see Juan Pablo, Orlando, Milena and Kiara walking down the street holding hands with their mom and dad.
Lila Hope-Simpson is the Director of the Home & Heart Child Development Centre and Family Day Care Agency in Wolfville.