Mr. Chair and honourable members of the committee, thank you for having me and my adviser, Julian Falconer, speak to you.
I have had a simple life. All I have is my son, my family, and my friends. I work hard to support my son. I try to keep him on the right path.
As politicians, you are responsible for making sure that Canadians are safe. You are responsible for Canadian citizens. You have to stand up for Canadians wherever they are. But your officials took away my rights and my freedom.
I'm telling you my story because I want to make sure that what happened to me does not happen to any other Canadian.
On April 30, I crossed into Nairobi to visit my family. I showed them my passport to get on the plane in Toronto, and I showed it again at a stopover in Amsterdam. I showed it to Kenyan authorities when I landed in Nairobi. No one stopped me or questioned me as to whether my passport really belonged to me.
Three weeks later, I started my trip home. I was looking forward to seeing my son again. I arrived at the airport on May 21. I had no idea that it would be three months before I came home again. Two KLM workers stopped me. They said I did not look like my passport picture, that my lips were not the same. I had been told by many people that they had been forced to pay a bribe to airport employees, to put money in their passports. I refused to do it, so they kept me there.
They held me at the airport overnight. I was allowed to call the Canadian High Commission and I spoke with someone there. I told them who I was, where I worked, and where I lived. I thought they would help me. The next morning, two officials from the Canadian High Commission came to see me at the airport. They put a picture of my son on the table. I picked it up right away. I told them that it was my son's photo, but they did not believe me. I begged them to call my family in Canada to tell them, but they did not begin to call my family in Canada. I told them to call my workplace, but they did not. They just told me, “You are not Suaad.”
They left me there at the airport, where I was kept for four days. Instead of helping me, they told the Kenyans that I was an impostor. They gave the Kenyans my passport to help them to charge me as a criminal.
On May 25, the Kenyans let me go, on a bond. They told me I had two weeks to prove who I was. They took me to the High Commission, where I showed the Canadians everything in my wallet, all my ID, everything in my bag. I showed them my travel documents, my driver's licence, my Canadian citizenship, my social insurance card, my insurance card, even a dry cleaning receipt, my Bell Canada calling card, my OHIP card, my son's social insurance card, my Visa card, and my health card. I also showed them Canadian Tire money. They did not believe me. Again, they told me that I was not Suaad. I asked them to call people who knew me in Canada, but they didn't.
After two weeks, when the Canadian High Commission still did not accept my identity, I had to go to jail. The commission told the Kenyans that I was not a Canadian. I was charged for possessing and using a passport issued to another person and being unlawfully present in Kenya. I was in that jail from June 3 to June 11 before my mother could get me out on bail. I went through a horrible time, and I never want another Canadian to go through such a troubling thing.
I was locked in a prison with murderers, and one lady had blood on her hand. They told me that she killed her boyfriend. I was so afraid that I could not sleep. There were too many people in there, and we slept on the floor. There were even small children with their mothers who were locked up.
I have never been in a jail, I've never been in trouble, and I've never been guilty of anything. I got sick and I thought I was going to die. All I could think of was that I promised my son I would come back soon, but I could never see him again. Even when I got out of the prison, the Canadian government fought against me. It was only because of the pressure from people in Canada that they finally started to look at my case.
On July 9, I gave them my fingerprints. Later they told me that they did not keep my fingerprints from when I became a Canadian citizen in 2003. I don't know if that's true.
On July 15, my employer at ATS, Andromeier Transportation Services Inc., confirmed in writing with the second secretary of the High Commission in Nairobi, Mr. Huard, that I was employed with the company and that I was on approved vacation.