January 16, 2022

La Ronge Northerner

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“The Guardian Angels” by Edward Snowden: “We can finally dream of a better life”

The Sri Lankan refugee family who risked everything to save the famous whistleblower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong is enjoying a better life in Quebec after a long wait. As the clan tasted happiness in the Montreal apartment, the fear and anxiety that had prevailed for the past few years led to laughter and hope.

Read more: Snowden’s “Guardian Angels” came to Canada

Three months have passed since the arrival of the so-called “guardian angels” of Snowden. Subun Thilina Kellapatha, Nadeeka Dilrukshi Nonis and their children Sethumdi and Dinath are approaching their new presence with confidence.

The ordinary home in the family-occupied Saint-Laurent metropolis is overflowing with life on this rainy Monday in December. Montreal received its first good snowfall a few hours ago and it turned into rain. Nothing was enough to upset everyone, especially Chetmudi, 10, who was delighted to be able to talk about the “big snowball” he did with his friends at school that morning.

On this gray day, her smile illuminates the room as she reflects on the first snowman.

His father Subun asks with a smile. It’s not the capricious weather that makes him lose his good sense of humor. He and his wife Nadeeka were subjected to the worst abuse in Sri Lanka. They then lived in Hong Kong for many years with undocumented status, where they could be deported to their home country at any time.

It was in this megalopolis that they hid Edward Snowden, a former employee of the NSA, the US intelligence agency that became the number one public enemy in the United States following its revelations in 2013 (See below)

The little family came here two and a half years after the first two “guardian angels”. In March 2019, Subun’s other daughter Keena and her mother Vanessa Rodel landed on Canadian soil.

Quickly, they formed and integrated their nest in Montreal. The little boy now speaks excellent French, while his mother is of Philippine descent and speaks and understands the language at an intermediate level.

The latter followed some professional training and is now looking for job opportunities in Montreal. “I am ready to work hard to help my daughter and shape our future,” Vanessa said.

Unbearable waiting

Quebec, Subun and Nadeeka have been dreaming of it for a long time. From the moment Quebec lawyers intensified their efforts to bring them back to the country, Subun did not stop learning about his future homeland. From his small Hong Kong apartment, he was able to look big.

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“Before, I had no life, I had no future. Now I have a destiny. Finally we have a future,” the Patriot sees in the first media interview since the family arrived in Montreal.

For years, he often believed that good news would come. Many times expectations turned out to be disappointing. Long sleepless nights and stress have gradually made their home a more modest home.

“But now I’m sleeping well,” Subun laughs.

“I was often promised that I would leave Hong Kong in a month. But that did not happen next month. Others told me I would never go to Canada. Life was hard. I did not want to miss this opportunity.”

“It simply came to our notice then. Stable life, security and freedom await us in Canada, ”said Nadeeka.

Creating “solid foundations”

The couple wants to “build a solid foundation” in Quebec. Settle, work and integrate. He can count on a non-profit organization for refugees, which promises for them. The refugee organization is funded entirely by private donations.

Thanks to this money, they were able to land in an apartment that was already furnished with a full refrigerator.

“We are very grateful to Mark-Andrew [Séguin] And Guilloom [Cliche-Rivard]. They made a promise to us and they kept it, ”Supun assures.e Sequin.

With this invaluable help, all four members of the family were able to catch up quickly with Montreal. From the first week, the whole family walked to the top of Mount Royal without knowing the route. Subun saw the views of the mountain from Hong Kong and was eager to go there.

See Chatto Frontenac

Next stop: Sato Frendenak, he has seen photos of it on the internet.

“Quebec looks like a beautiful historic city,” says Subun.

Even Putin did not oppose the family. Again, this finding is the result of research on the Internet.

“Now, I also make pottery at home,” says Nadeeka with a smile, an excellent chef and experienced tailor.

Family lawyer Marc-André Séguin and four family members took him to the Bell Center to watch the game in Canada.

Photo courtesy, Mark-Andre Seguin

Family lawyer Marc-André Séguin and four family members took him to the Bell Center to watch the game in Canada.

Their lawyer, Mark-Andre Seguin, took them to watch the Canadian game earlier this season. If the team’s performance was not equal, it ignited a spark among the adults.

“I wanted to be a hockey player when I was growing up. And play matches, ”says Sethumdi.

Not afraid to work hard

For the next few months, the couple’s priority is to look for work. They already have permanent residency and Canadian citizenship will be valid for another three years. “We want to make a living,” Nadeeka repeats a few times in the interview.

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A great cricketer, Subun already sees himself at a Montreal club. This will allow him to trace some of the traces of many years of exile in Hong Kong hostile to undocumented immigrants.

“The only jobs I can do are‘ three D’s, tough, dangerous and dirty [difficile, dangereux et sale] », Laments Subun. 23 on unconnected bamboo scaffolding “From cabaret digger to worker on a construction sitee Or 24e Floor ”, worked hard. He wants to do the same in Quebec.

“Work hard, it doesn’t scare us,” adds his best half.

Dinah and Chet were amazed to see the cross horse police in Montreal Downtown.  They are in the company of Mother Nadeeka.

Photo courtesy, Mark-Andre Seguin

Dinah and Chet were amazed to see the cross horse police in Montreal Downtown. They are in the company of Mother Nadeeka.

Even children, for the first time in their lives, have an identity card. Stateless on a daily basis. The Canadian citizenship they need to obtain will allow them to become full members of a country for the first time in their short life.

Until then the family will adjust. Subun constantly searches the internet to find out about his host country. He’s patiently waiting to get his driver’s license so he can “take the whole family on vacation.” He wants to explore Quebec and its vast open spaces.

“We can finally dream of a better life.”

Meetings around the FIR

Sri Lankan refugee family

Photo courtesy, Mark-Andre Seguin

Nearly three years later, Subun Golpada, who last saw his daughter Keena, was able to hug her again just a few days before Christmas.

The long-awaited moment came in the early days of December, when the family decorated their Christmas tree. Keena arrived in Canada in March 2019 with her mother, Vanessa May Rodel, after seeing Canada grant them permanent asylum. They are Snowden’s first two “guardian angels” who have left Hong Kong.

Keena and her half-sister Sethum hugged each other for a long time (Photo below) Time did not destroy anything from their friendship, the Christmas magic worked. “Canada is the place to be [célébrer] Christmas. Santa Claus is from Canada, ”says Subun, smiling and glad to see his three children around the tree.

Sri Lankan refugee family

Photo courtesy, Mark-Andre Seguin

A holiday cake and a secret message

The birthday cake, purchased to celebrate Edward Snowden’s 30th birthday, was a hiding place to send a secret message to the fugitive.

Shortly after arriving at the family’s most modest apartment in Hong Kong, Whistleblower handed over his passport to his father when he was arrested by authorities. Leaving the document, the father of the family noticed that the fugitive would soon be celebrating his birthday on June 21st.

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Despite the limited funding, the quiet passing of the event was questionable and the birthday cake was purchased. However, precautions are necessary. The cake goes through the streets and buildings of Hong Kong. We want to make sure no one is following them. Finally reached its goal, the cake will not only satisfy guests. According to family lawyer Mark-Andre Seguin, Subun reveals that “a secret message was hidden in the cake”.

Refugee organization always collects donations to help Snowden’s “guardian angels”. You can donate by visiting: www.fortherefugees.com/fr

Some important dates in the Snowden story

Edward Snowden Former CIA and NSA employee. He revealed details of several mass surveillance programs in the US and UK.

May 20, 2013

  • The American took refuge in Hong Kong shortly after stealing the National Security Agency’s (NSA) top secret information using a USB key.

June 9

  • After the release of news containing explosive information in the newspapers Washington Post And Defender, Snowden reveals his identity to the world. A planetary hunt begins.

June 10 to 21

  • Montreal lawyer Robert Depot came up with the idea of ​​hiding fugitives with refugee families in impoverished neighborhoods in Hong Kong. The most wanted man on the planet lands there for several days.

June 23, 2013

  • Snowden flew from Hong Kong to Moscow, where Russia granted him temporary asylum.

September 15, 2016

  • Biographical film release Snowden, Oliver Stone. The film highlights the role of the whistleblower “Guardian Angels”. From that moment on, they are being monitored by the authorities and fearful of retaliation.

Today

  • Edward Snowden still lives in Russia and is now a permanent resident.

Happy winter to them

Whistleblower Edward Snowden welcomed the news of the arrival of his four “guardian angels” in Canada with great “relief.” The former CIA and NSA employee responded by email to questions sent to him The Magazine.

“It’s easy to forget, now, how long everyone has struggled to do this, frankly, how unlikely we are to succeed,” he wrote.

He said he did not believe he could reconnect with these.

“I can do nothing for their lives except problems. My appreciation and gratitude to them is always there […] .

See also