It sounds like the beginning of a romance movie — a British man and Canadian woman meet, stay in touch for years and then the woman makes the impulsive decision to fly to England and marry him.
That was the beginning of John and Anne Collins’ love story.
The couple originally met at an emergency management conference in the U.S. John, a former British soldier, was there speaking about security, while Anne, a First Nations woman, was attending as part of her job.
“I just said, ‘why don’t you come to England and marry me’ and she did,” John said, adding they’ve been married for 10 years.
Since September 2013, the duo have made Victoria their home.
Anne, 63, is in a wheelchair after escaping a previously abusive relationship and can’t work. John, also 63, is her sole caregiver.
In August, their world was torn apart.
Upon arriving in Canada three years ago, John was denied entry and told that if he wanted to work in Canada, he would have to return to the U.K. In frustration, Anne suggested he make a refugee claim.
But John’s refugee application has been denied and was told by the Immigration and Refugee Board to be on a plane back to the U.K. on Nov. 29.
However, there have been no arrangements to transport Anne, so she can voluntarily return with her husband. The total cost of the trip is roughly $10,000 — money the couple doesn’t have since John’s work permit was revoked.
“I get flown out of the country and if I can’t get something put together my wife ends up homeless and desolate in her own country with no one to support her,” John said. “I laugh because I feel like crying.”
Anne can’t believe her husband is being kicked out of the country.
“I’m supremely disappointed that things like this would happen to a man who has worked all these years,” she said, adding she has to leave behind a brother who is in an assisted-living facility. “He’s done so much for people, he’s a real giver.”
Over the past few weeks, the Collins have reached out to the public for financial help, since they need to leave all of their belongings behind and start a new life in Britain.
Most recently, a member of the Muslim community, who wishes to remain anonymous, donated $500 to pay for Anne’s flight.
“We went to thank him and he said ‘no, don’t thank me’, every person should help each other,” John said.
They have also written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in hopes he could help them.