Valued members of the West End community must leave country due to work permit technicality

Dave and Mariejo Cariaga, volunteers at the Manitoulin Lodge Nursing Home in Gore Bay, with a resident of the Lodge last Friday. The couple, who live in Ice Lake, are having to leave Canada due to a technicality in a work permit form with Immigration Canada.

GORE BAY-ICE LAKE – Two valuable members of the community of Ice Lake, and indeed all of Western Manitoulin, are having to return back to the Philippines due to a technicality in their work permit form with Canadian immigration services.

Dave Cariaga and his wife and Mariejo will have to leave in the next couple of weeks to the Philippines and fill out work permit forms to return back to Canada. “I’m working as the minister at the Ice Lake Church of Christ. We have been here on Manitoulin Island for two years in May and have lived in Canada for almost four years. Previous to moving to the Island I was a preacher in the Convoy Church of Christ in Halifax, Nova Scotia.” 

Mr. Cariaga explained the problem started, “when I applied for a work permit renewal. Everything was okay on the form, except for one number. According to our immigration consultant, we were advised by Immigration Canada that we would have to leave the country. We don’t know the reason why. This technicality could be rectified. And we were advised by the church leaders to follow what Canadian Immigration says.”
“When I was still living in the Philippines I had a three-year work permit which we had to apply for every year,” said Mr. Cariaga. “It is not my error or my employer’s. We were told it is a policy decision (Immigration Canada).”

“On the advice of Immigration Canada we will leave, and once we get there we will apply go come back,” continued Mr. Cariaga. “As soon as the approval for my work permit is accepted we plan to come back,” he said, pointing out the couple will be going back to the Philippines on February 13.

“I love the weather here and the people are very nice. This is a very quiet and beautiful place,” stated Mr. Cariaga, “and we are beginning to know many people here, and the church here has been great; especially Ian Whittington, Charles Sheppard, Bill and Eileen Sloan,” noting he and his wife live in Ice Lake.

“No, we don’t want to have to move back to the Philippines,” said David. “I don’t know exactly when we will be back. But we’re going to leave our things here and bring enough clothes with us for a few days.” 

“I now pay taxes in Canada and work here,” said Mr. Cariaga. “But they have a policy we have to leave because there was a number missing on our work permit application. As good Christians we obey with the laws, and I want to set an example for others.”

Along with his work at the church, the couple are valued volunteers at the Manitoulin Lodge Nursing Home in Gore Bay where they help feed residents that can’t eat on their own and help to cook and serve the female residents at the monthly women’s breakfast. 

Mr. Cariaga is “hoping that eventually we will be able to bring our children to live and work here. We have three boys, the oldest being 31 and the youngest being 28. And we are trying to sell our current property in the Philippines. We want to move here permanently.”

Phyllis Cacciotti, of the Manitoulin Lodge Volunteer Team told the Recorder, “Dave and Mariejo have been on our volunteer committee for over a year and they are regulars here helping to feed residents, help out at all events and fundraisers, and all the work they do in his ministry. They are both a very valuable part of our volunteer team and the Lodge. We are all very dismayed that they are being asked to leave over a technicality.”

Mr. Cariaga said he is going to contact MP Carol Hughes office to see if they could do anything to help him.

See Recorder for continuing coverage of this story.