March 22, 2023

La Ronge Northerner

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Press in Florida | “He wanted a better life”

The family of Fritznel Richard, who was found dead near Roxham Road, paid his last respects on Saturday.

(Naples, Florida) Deported from the United States to Haiti at a very young age, Fritsnell Richard has “defiantly” crossed half a dozen countries in hopes of improving the situation for himself and his loved ones. A life that ended tragically on Christmas Eve, not far from Wroxham Road, Quebec.

Under a hot Florida sun, the ashes of Fristnell Richard were handed over to his widow on Saturday, two weeks after he was reported missing, thousands of kilometers from the snowy forests of Monteregi where his body was found on January 5.

In the small room of an anonymous funeral home in Naples on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, Gunda Filius was gathered with her family and loved ones as her portrait was placed on the altar, in view of her husband.

Photo by Vincent Laurin, The Press

In tears throughout the ceremony, Kunta Filius, co-spokesperson for Action for the Statusless, Franz Andre, received the casket containing her husband’s ashes.

Like hundreds of thousands of immigrants, Fritsnell Richard embarked on a great exodus about fifteen years ago that took him first to the Dominican Republic, then Brazil, Mexico, the United States and finally Canada, many of his relatives said.

Solid, elastic and unrelenting

“She was strong, resilient and unrelenting in her quest to better herself and her family. In Mexico, she told me: ‘They are more welcome here for the Haitian community,'” her cousin and foster sister Guada recalled with tremolos in her voice.

“He loved Gunda, Oh goshHe loved Gunda,” Kwada concluded.

“He tried very hard, he worked all the time. If he moved around a lot, it was because he wanted a better life,” explained his cousin Etude Michel, referring to the time he visited Fritznel in Naples, where he lived with his in-laws.

This quest, which began when he was deported from the United States to Haiti at a young age, took Fritznel Richard to the Darien forest between Colombia and Panama. There, he and his wife saw atrocities along the way, including the bodies of dead adults and children, as they accompanied him on a journey across America, Guada said.

Photo by Vincent Laurin, The Press

Friztnel Richard’s relatives gathered at the Naples funeral home

Friztnel Richard lost his life trying to cross the Canada-US border in the middle of a storm on December 23, a decision his step-sister still cannot explain.

The last months of the man’s life in Canada, when he was said to be doing well, remain unclear to his relatives. “He was really good, he had nothing, he told me he got government payments to pay his bills,” he said, referring to the last-ditch financial aid offered to asylum seekers in Quebec.

“He tried to convince me that everything was fine, but it really wasn’t,” she sighs. “I realized this and when Gunda called me on the 24th, he had called her the previous day and told her that he was dying. »

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On the evening of December 23, moments after he was left to his own devices at Glass Hill, less than a mile off the Wroxham Road.

A hallucination turned into a nightmare

As Fritznel traveled to Florida to deliver Richard’s remains to his widow, Frantz André, a spokesman for the Action Committee on Statusless Persons, did not want to close the file anytime soon.

My message to politicians is to talk about a safe third country deal. Because of this contract, you have deaths.

Franz Andre, spokesperson for the Action Committee on Statusless Persons

Remember that under this agreement signed between Washington and Ottawa, those who cross the border outside official channels can submit an asylum application without being turned away, so Roxham Road in Monterrey is a popular way to enter Quebec.

However, more immigrants then attempt to enter the United States irregularly at their own peril.1Fritznell is shown by the tragic example of Richard.

“How many Fritsnel Richards have died in the woods thinking that America or Canada were the countries of opportunity, and who realized, upon their arrival, that it was a myth? And this mystical dream turns into a nightmare, which leads them to return to another country of safety,” continues Franz Andre, sitting in a hotel in Naples.

The man plans to travel to Miami in the coming days to meet with representatives of the Haitian community, but also American politicians who want to raise awareness of the importance of revising the agreement on safe third countries.