Three years ago, Skyler James left the American military fearing for her life because her fellow soldiers found out she was a lesbian.
Since then, it’s been a constant battle, legally and emotionally, to remain with her newfound home and Canuck friends. But last fall James won a stay of deportation, thanks to a Federal Court ruling. However, she has to go back to the refugee board again in August and it doesn’t mean she will be permitted to stay.
On July 15, James and The War Resisters Campaign are teaming up and holding a fundraiser to help fund her legal battle. Details of the event are still being arranged, but it will likely hold 120 people and be held at a downtown bar.
Since we last spoke with James, she was laid off her call centre job last April. In the meantime, she’s looking for work and trying to enjoy the great weather. She describes our short winter as “wimpy” and “not as cold as prior winters”.
When James came to Ottawa, James says she had three fellow war resisters to talk to. All that has changed; people have been fleeing from the law or deported and jailed.
“When I first came to Ottawa, I knew of four people who were American war resisters. Since then, one guy turned himself in and got let out from prison early because of his certain situation. Another has gone underground. The guy I came with has gone also underground,” says James.
By ‘going underground’, James means working under the table using fake names and living as an illegal immigrant with no healthcare, fleeing city to city. She asked to leave their names out of this article for fear of safety.
James’ next immigration hearing happens in August. With the legal help from her lawyer and encouragement from her new Canadian friends, she says she doesn’t fear being deported.
“Does the thought of being deported frighten me? No. People keep encouraging me, telling me my case has a good shot and I don’t give up,” says James.
Skyler James’ fundraiser to stay in Canada happens Thurs. July 15. Details will be released shortly. For more information, visit the Facebook page You Are Home Skyler James. You can also email Skyler at firstname.lastname@example.org.