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.
The story goes on to say "one guy turned himself in and got let out from prison early because of his certain situation". While technically true, this doesn't begin to tell the story. War resister James Burmeister - who suffers from traumatic brain injury and PTSD from the wounds he received while serving in Iraq, and whose mother was critically ill - could no longer tolerate living in legal limbo. He turned himself in, and served nine months in military prison without treatment for his medical conditions. His so-called early release amounted to a matter of weeks or days.
In Skyler James' case, the Federal Court ordering a new IRB hearing is hugely significant. This also happened in the case of Joshua Key - in fact, Josh's second hearing was one year ago yesterday. There has still been no decision.
To attend the fundraiser and learn more about how you can help Skyler James, join the Facebook group You Are Home Skyler James.
And of course, support Bill C-440, so Skyler and all the war resisters can stay.