Abram-Village man desperately trying to stay in P.E.I. as deadline looms

Published on December 28, 2015

John Merx and his family showcase their pride on Canada Day back in July. P.E.I. has been their home for the last four years.

©Eddy Merx/Special to The Guardian

ABRAM-VILLAGE - Time is running out for an Abram-Village man and his five children who must earn permanent residency by Feb. 25 or be sent back to Germany.

Eddy Merx's voice trembles through the phone while listing everything that his family and the community of Abram-Village have done to achieve permanent residence status for the family.

Merx and his family moved here four years ago and have recently applied for permanent residence status. But, according to Merx, his application was stalled because he applied while living in Canada rather than from Germany.

To make matters worse, Merx's wife, the mother of their five children, returned to Germany two years ago, leaving the family for a man she met on the Internet.

Merx knew when his wife left that his application for permanent resident status was in danger. 

"I had to quit my job at the time and move to another job to spend more time at home and take care of the kids," Merx says. "Now, I can't apply for permanent status because I don't have a permanent job, which is not enough."

Despite their current situation, Merx admits community support has been overwhelming.

"People here take care of your kids, they look out for them," he said.

"Last year we had our Christmas tree up and you couldn't even see it because of the presents from the community."

People from Abram-Village, Wellington, Summerside and Charlottetown are offering to help his family with everything from donations to navigating government red tape.

Desperate to remain on P.E.I. and eventually become Canadian citizens, Merx and his family have built upon the community support and contacted the P.E.I. Office of Immigration and Egmont MP Bobby Morrissey.

"The community started a petition and dropped it off at Bobby Morrissey's office," Merx said.

Merx says he understands that Morrissey has detailed the Merx family's plight to Federal Minister of Immigration John McCallum and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Merx is optimistic that the government will grant his family permanent residency prior to Feb. 25, but he admits time is running out.

Merx acknowledges there is a real possibility he and his children will be heading back to a country they don't want to call home.

"I have to be ready for this because I don't know if the government can do anything at all."