(Pixabay)

Deported B.C. man who came to Canada as a baby granted chance at return

Len Van Heest was deported to the Netherlands in 2017

A Courtenay, B.C. man who was deported at 59 despite living in Canada since he was seven months old has won a shot at returning home.

A federal court has granted Len Van Heest a judicial review of his permanent and temporary residency applications.

“Life handed Len Van Heest a tough hand,” Justice Yvan Roy said in his Feb. 7 ruling, which reviewed a senior immigration officer’s decision to deny the applications.

“One would expect a more careful and nuanced examination of the extremely peculiar circumstances of this case.”

Van Heest’s application will be given to a different officer for review.

Van Heest was deported to the Netherlands in 2017, and court documents say he has been living in a shelter where he can’t communicate with anyone because he doesn’t speak the language.

The documents say he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 16 and committed more than 40 offences in Canada, including an assault with a weapon, uttering threats and mischief.

He was granted many stays in the years since the immigration department issued a removal order in 2008, but was ultimately deported.

In spite of his being outside the country, an application for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds filed in June 2016 was never withdrawn. On April 15, 2017, Van Heest also requested a temporary resident permit to allow him to return to Canada on a temporary basis.

Both applications were denied on July 24, 2018.

READ MORE: Pressure mounts to stop deportation of Courtenay man who came to Canada as a baby

The immigration officer said in the July decision that he or she was not convinced that the problems related to Van Heest’s separation from his loved ones, including sadness, were sufficient to warrant an exemption from his inadmissibility for serious criminality. The person cited Van Heest’s “moderate degree of establishment,” stable health and living conditions in the Netherlands.

Roy’s ruling says Van Heest had known Canada as his only country of residence.

“He has spent his whole life in Canada. He is Canadian except for the fact that, for a reason unknown, his parents never obtained Canadian citizenship for him in spite of the fact that they themselves became Canadian citizens,” Roy said.

Roy said the officer fairly summarized Van Heest’s “sad story,” including the anxiety and remorse he has experienced because of the deportation and the hardship caused by his separation from family.

The officer seems to recognize that Van Heest’s criminal record speaks to his mental illness, but ultimately concluded he can’t be absolved from all responsibility on that basis, the ruling says.

While the immigration officer concluded the hardship facing Van Heest is not enough to grant him residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, Roy argues that hardship is no longer the test.

“It is rather whether a reasonable person in a civilized community would be excited by a desire to relieve the misfortune of another,” the ruling says, pointing to a 2015 Supreme Court of Canada ruling.

“It will be for a different decision-maker to make a determination considering the matter through the appropriate lens, which must include the desire to relieve the misfortune of someone in appropriate circumstances.”

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tlaoquiaht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

BCHL: Bulldogs trade veteran defenceman, acquire new players during offseason

Grayson Valente suited up for three seasons with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs

ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre garden opening June 16

Virtual art exhibits and gift shop to come

A LOOK BACK: maritime history of Alberni Inlet

Take a peek at Alberni Valley history with Alberni Valley Museum

EDITORIAL: It’s time for Canada to admit to its own racism

Make no mistake, racism exists in Canada.

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

Man found dead in his tent at Island homeless camp

Facebook posts tell of personal struggles and attempts to stay clean and sober

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

Tlaoquiaht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Most Read