A Laval, Que. family expecting to be deported today to its native Guinea has received a last-minute reprieve, after the federal government intervened and used its discretionary power to postpone the expulsion.
Kankou Keita Mansaré and two of her five children were due to be deported Sunday after a federal judge turned down their last-ditch appeal. Her remaining children were to leave on Tuesday.
But early Sunday morning, the family's lawyer was informed about the federal government's intervention in the case.
The deportation stay means they will be allowed to stay in Canada while immigration officials study their request for asylum on humanitarian grounds.
The family's pre-removal risk assessment will also be reviewed.
Anne-Marie Bellemare, a social worker who has been helping the family, said Sunday they are thrilled.
"They're so happy. The mother, she's Muslim, she thanks God, she says we have to thank God for what they did," Bellemare said.
"And of course she's pleased with what Canada and Quebec did and what's happening, and for all the support. She's had tremendous support from a lot of people, and she's very thankful."
The Keita family has been fighting to stay in Canada, fearing their daughters will be forced into marriages and possibly subjected to genital mutilation if they are forced to return to Guinea.
Immigration Canada has attempted to deport the family three times already.
On Thursday the family was set to leave Canada and showed up at the Trudeau Airport, in Montreal, but they were turned away after the children couldn't present valid passports.
In March, Keita didn't report to the airport because she was sick in hospital.
Keita and her five children arrived in Canada five years ago as refugee claimants.
Keita's application for refugee status was denied, and the family later got a lawyer to prepare an application to stay on humanitarian grounds.
But because of a mistake by the lawyer, Immigration Canada never received that application, Keita said.
The family's supporters have held public demonstrations, pleading for the government's intervention to allow the six to reapply to remain in Canada.