Paula Wharton begged Canadian immigration officials to send her home. Instead, they suggested university

In News by MIIC

(Roger Corriveau/CBC)

Paula Wharton was too young to remember when her mother was taken away to a sanatorium for tuberculosis, where she eventually died, leaving fifteen children behind.

She does, however, carry the story of a funeral ritual from Guyana.

“People told me I was just a year old,” Wharton said. “I was the fifteenth child, and at the funeral my brothers passed me backward and forward over the coffin.”

“It was believed that if they did that, my mother wouldn’t come and take me.”

When she was 19, Wharton left for England, where she married her first husband. She said she worked a few blocks away from Trafalgar Square as a ministry clerk, while her husband finished medical school. Eventually they moved to Windsor, Ontario, where her husband was employed as a doctor and she raised her three children.

After four months, though, Wharton said they divorced. The split made her despondent, angry, and left her longing for Guyana.

“I called the immigration department and said ‘can you deport me and my three children to Guyana, where my father is?’ and he said ‘lady, we don’t run a travel agency, we just don’t send people back if they don’t like it.”

For what the clerk said after, Wharton calls him an angel.

“That same man said ‘lady, why don’t you go to school? You sound so intelligent, so bright.”

“Sometimes I’m embarrassed how happy I am. I don’t know what to do about it.”

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