Jasminder Bhandal

Frail woman, family members fear her deportation to India

Family speaks candidly about concerns if 83-year-old relative forced to return to home country

Cooking is too difficult for Surjit Bhandal and she is so frail, she needs help to stand up.

The 83-year-old former Langford resident, whose application for permanent residency here has been denied, suffers from insomnia and her life has become full of fear and anxiety, family members say.

“Before she used to wake up at 5 a.m and pray to God, but now she stays in bed until 10 a.m.,” said her nephew, Jasminder Bhandal.

The woman he has called his mother his whole life worries what might happen if she is forced to return to her native country.

“Jasminder is my son, I can’t live alone over in India. There is nowhere I can live. I can’t make my own food. I want to stay with my son,” Surjit said via translation.

Jasminder, who by blood is Surjit’s nephew, hopes she will be able to stay in Canada – the family has appealed the deportation ruling – and continue to live with him and his family.

Jasminder’s birth mother was disabled due to severe arthritis in her hands and feet. Surjit cared for he and his brother through their childhoods. Early on, Jasminder’s father gave Surjit – his sister – permission to adopt the boy.

While the verbal adoption is considered legal in India, Jasminder said, it is not deemed official in Canada, which is the main reason Citizenship and Immigration Canada has ruled to deport her.

The family, now living in Saanich, has taken out private health insurance for Surjit and plans to cover all her expenses if she is allowed to stay.

Jasminder hopes the appeal is granted on compassionate grounds.

“I feel very bad about this, they made an error,” he said of the ruling. “We don’t have anybody back in India to take care of her.”

charla@goldstreamgazette.com