Haitian family that entered Quebec at Roxham Road being shuffled around, waiting to begin new life

"We want to participate, we are very grateful to Canada for accepting us," says a Haitian woman who fled to Quebec with her family. She came in at Roxham Road, an irregular border crossing the premier is asking be closed. Alyssia Rubertucci reports.

A Haitian woman who entered Quebec via Roxham Road last month – the irregular border crossing Premier François Legault wants to see closed – says her family’s life has been in limbo ever since.

The 28-year-old crossed into Quebec with her husband and their two-year-old daughter looking for a better life.

CityNews agreed to keep her identity confidential as she fears repercussions.

“We left Haiti because of the security, because we have a lot of dreams,” she said. “We want to fit in somewhere, we want to get things done. But Haiti, it’s not possible, we can’t go to school and we can’t work. If someone has a big dream, you can’t even have hope in Haiti.

“So we left and we came here.”

The family made their long journey through Chile, Mexico and the United States, where they finally were took a bus to Roxham Road and made the walk to Quebec.

“For us, it was like a dream come true because we said to ourselves that we finally found peace, that we actually arrived somewhere where we can be stable,” she told CityNews. “We had the feeling that we are going to start living.”

child's pink coat on snow

Child’s pink coat laying on snow at Roxham Road border crossing in Lacolle, Que., on Feb. 21, 2023. (Credit: CityNews/Martin Daigle)

But that has yet to happen; the family has been going from hotel to hotel since Jan. 22.

“We are worried because our goal was to come here, to work and to integrate,” said the woman. “We didn’t want to spend a lot of time not working. It’s like our dream is fading and we’re waking up.”


For months Legault has been asking that Ottawa stop the flow of migrants into the country. He wants Roxham Road closed and for migrants to be transferred outside Quebec to other provinces.

The number of would-be refugees entering Quebec “has exploded,” François Legault wrote in an English-language letter published Tuesday in The Globe and Mail, adding the province’s social services have been pushed to their limits.

The sooner the federal government closes Roxham Road the better, the premier said.

“This situation even raises several humanitarian considerations, as it is becoming increasingly difficult to receive asylum seekers with dignity,” Legault said.

The letter is similar to the one the Quebec premier wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday.

“The narrative is for more political reasons when we have a humanitarian crisis at the border and this is, to me, irresponsible of Mr. Legault,” said Frantz André, Action Committee for People without Status (CAPSS).

“Instead of just moving people around like cattle let’s make sure that we do a better triage. People that want to stay in Montreal, that speak French, they’re going to be contributors, paying taxes to reimburse whatever financial help is being given.”

Legault has previously claimed Quebec has taken a “completely disproportionate share” of asylum seekers, adding more than 39,000 people claimed asylum last year through its unofficial entry points.

On Monday night Ottawa agreed to reimburse some of the living costs of asylum seekers that Quebec asked for.

Legault is also asking Trudeau to make this issue a priority during a meeting next month with U.S. President Joe Biden.

“The Americans are not taking the responsibilities,” said André. “They’re trying it on us. And somewhere we have to respect society. We have to be able to give them the opportunity to show that they deserve protection.”


For the Haitian woman who spoke to CityNews, and her family, she is eager to start her life in this new country.

“I’m a little worried because we can’t do anything without work permits, can’t get our own accommodations,” she said. “And staying in hotels all the time, it’s not a life.

“We want to participate. We are very grateful to Canada for accepting us.”

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