WINNIPEG – One of two West African men who suffered severe frostbite while illegally crossing the Canadian border is sharing details of the harrowing tale.
On Dec. 24, Seidu Mohammed, 24, who is from Ghana in West Africa, crossed the border on foot near Emerson, Man., with another man from the same country.
Doctors have told him that his fingers, and possibly his hands, will need to be amputated.
Mohammed tells CTV Winnipeg he fled Ghana fearing for his life because he is bisexual.
He says he spent a year in a detention facility in the United States and when he was released he decided to head north to Canada.
He and the other man walked for 10 hours in freezing and snowy weather, losing their hats, mitts and their way.
“All our arms were frozen, our feet frozen, we can’t see,” says Mohammed. “We were waving for cars to stop, so that they can help us to call 911, or immigration, but nobody stopped.”
Near Leteiller, Man., along Highway 75, Mohammed says a trucker came to their rescue.
“When we met him, we were crying, because we met a man who saved our life,” he says.
Winnipeg immigration lawyer Bashir Khan says a lot of migrants make the dangerous trip after enduring months in American detention facilities and not getting a fair chance at being given refugee status in the Unites States.
“They were desperate, they were awaiting deportation back to West Africa,” says Khan. “They were not given a lawyer because they couldn’t afford one.
“That’s when they realized — the Great White North, the Undeground Railroad, let’s go to Canada and see if we’ll get a fair hearing, because they did not get a fair hearing under the U.S. justice system.”
It could be months before the two men find out if they can stay in Canada permanently.
The Ghanaian Union of Manitoba says because of their frostbite they have been given an extension to fill out the necessary paperwork to file a refugee claim.