Asylum-seekers want to help more in Quebec

Des demandeurs d’asile veulent aider davantage au Québec

They arrived by the path Roxham in 2018, a baby in the belly, another in the arm. Still waiting for his asylum application, the couple who fled Algeria lends a hand to seniors in the fight to the COVID-19.

“From December 2018, I lived the best days of my life with my wife here [in Quebec],” says Abderahmane Sebbache, a smile in the voice.

On December 3, 2018, at 14: 05, M. Sebbache and his wife Yasmina Dakar, then five months pregnant, have crossed the canada-u.s. border on foot by the rang Roxham, in the Montérégie region, a simple backpack on the shoulders and their 4-year old son, Djad, who was sleeping in the arms of his father.

“This is a day I will never forget,” he said. 14: 10 we were asking for asylum.

Nearly three years later, they still don’t know if they will one day be able to say that Quebec is among them.

But that’s not a problem. When the prime minister François Legault has called on quebec’s population to enroll on the platform, the “I contribute” in mid-April, Ms. Dakar, who was trained as a patient care attendant (PAB) to his arrival in the province, has immediately lifted the hand to go to the front.

“I didn’t do that for my papers, she said, but because I had to do to help. ”

Work and volunteer

The evening and the night, the woman of 31 years working at the Former Boarding school in Côte-Saint-Paul, in the South-West of Montreal, an intermediate resource to the public for seniors, where a case of COVID-19 has been confirmed.

Her husband cares for the children.

Then she takes over the day when he goes to work as a security officer for the medical group Westmount Square, or volunteering in their neighborhood, Hochelaga.

“I do deliveries for the elderly who cannot get out to do their shopping. I went to clean a stop respite for moms. We try to participate in the community to know the people, ” commented Mr. Sebbache.

And if the couple could send their children to the daycare, he would like ” more help “.

Djad has been named the friend of the day to her school in Montreal.

“This is the only time where I don’t have to stress with immigration,” says the father, the throat. If I could, I would work 24 hours on 24. “

From April 2018, asylum seekers no longer have access to places to be contributions reduced in the childcare services.

Grow up in fear

Mr. Sebbache and Ms. Dakar have lived through the algerian civil war during which government and the islamist groups are entredéchirés for more than 10 years, from 1991 to 2002.

“I grew up in fear, with the car bombs, the suicide bombings, rocket fire, he said. At the age of 7 or 8 years, rather than have nightmares about monsters in the closet, afraid of waking up the next day without a head because of the terrorists. “

It has experienced a level of terror that he would not wish to anyone.

Abderahmane Sebbache and his wife Yasmina Dakar, in 2012, in Algiers, Algeria.

In 10 years, the violence in this North African country have made nearly 100 000 dead, thousands missing, a million people displaced, tens of thousands of exiles, and more than $ 20 billion of damage.

The young lovers met at the university, nine years ago.

“We led a normal life,” says Mr. Sebbache. But we kept a low profile because my wife was not wearing the veil. We did the maximum in order not to be too seen. It was never the public transport otherwise it was insulting “, he says.

In Algeria, the wearing of the veil is a choice, but a strong social pressure encourages women to veil.

They say that they are secular and liberal.

She had a good position in the Algiers international Airport and worked in marketing in her account. Of jobs that allow them to live comfortably.

They shared with the extended family, a house in the popular area of El Madania in Algiers, belonging to the maternal grandfather of Mr. Sebbache.

The living room of the family house in the neighbourhood of El Madania in Algiers, where they remained with the mother and the grandparents of Mr. Sebbache.

A horror movie

The small family had not planned to flee Algeria.

“We left our friends, our family, because we were faced with a problem that could not be set “, leaves quickly fall to Mr. Sebbache, who doesn’t want to reveal too much details, for fear of reprisals against his family still in Algeria.

Threats to Ms. Dakar have resulted in a kidnapping attempt on their son. It was too much for them. Without even thinking, they have left the home.

They first fled to the east of the country, and then to the west, to finally decide to leave Algeria without a precise destination.

New York

The young Djad enjoying a slice of pizza in a motel in New Jersey. He and his parents have left Algeria to fly to New York.

The family flew to the United States because a friend lived there. They landed in New York towards the end of the month of November 2018.

In a store a discount to purchase food, Mr. Sebbache made the acquaintance of a young Québécois who convinced him to go in la Belle Province, for the French, especially.

He then launched into research and quickly realized that it was going to have to take a small dirt road, the rang Roxham, Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, in order to enter the country without a visa.

The same day, he bought his bus ticket to Canada.

“I can’t tell you the anguish I had in the bus between New York and the frontier,” he continues. I had to spend 20 minutes throwing up in the toilet. I had seen videos on YouTube. A journalist told the crossing as a horror film. ”

At the border, the family has feared the worst.

A trap ?

After borrowing a dirt road, rang Roxham, Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, crossing the border illegally, the family Sebbache climbed into a bus with the canadian government to go to Montreal.

“When I saw the canadian police officer who smiled at me, I thought it was a trap. In Algeria, the police are not as friendly as here “, said he.

“They arrested us. They gave us water and something to eat. They took our fingerprints, photos, and launched an investigation to find out if we were not searched. Then, we were given a room to sleep, ” recalls Mr. Sebbache with tenderness. Everyone was so nice. ”

The next day, a bus from the canadian government, led at the YMCA Atwater, Montreal. More than 500 asylum-seekers are waiting for them, according to the memories of the couple.

Arrived in the metropolis in quebec, they were able to rent an apartment with the help of immigration, then get furniture, thanks to Mr. Claude and Mrs. Ginette, their host family, who are now friends.

In the first weeks following their arrival in the country, asylum seekers are issued with a work permit if they prove that they need work to meet their needs.

With a 4 year old child and a baby on the way, the request of the couple, addressed to citizenship and Immigration Canada was quickly accepted.

A new life

In April 2019, the father was trained as a security officer, a job that was on the list of professions that can occupy the asylum seekers, as is the attendant to the beneficiaries.

Mr. Sebbache disguised as a rabbit to entertain the children while he volunteered at a center in Algeria. It has pursued this mission in Montreal once.

Ms. Dakar received his training as a COP shortly after her husband, from may to August 2019.

At the time, she had just given birth to the small Noah, who is now aged 14 months. But she wanted to ” change of air “.

“I told him that the best way to get to know people was to go to study in a class,” says Mr. Sebbache.

As his wife was to breastfeed the baby every two hours, he was waiting for her in the parking lot of the training center from 9 h to 13 h, trying to distract the children.


In point of press on Monday, François Legault has opened the door to the regularization of the status of asylum seekers who work in NURSING homes. Quebec will review their records “one by one” in order to accept them as economic immigrants rather than refugees. However, it is the federal government that has the last word.

“The prime minister has given us hope, especially for our children,” said Ms. Dakar.

“Since it is here, it is as if we were born again,” adds her husband.

The family Sebbache cherishes her new life in Quebec.

“I’m 31 years old, but I have already lived for 75 years. I am here for my children. If they want to eat an ice cream, we let them eat ice cream. We live day-to-day, because maybe we will have to start tomorrow “, says Mr. Sebbache.

“In Algeria, our son did not go out in the street. Here, it always plays at the park. My friends and family I miss, but not the country “, he concludes.

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