UPDATE: Passport Canada has change of heart and grants 6-year-old cancer survivor her ‘dream trip’ to Disneyland
UDPATE: On August 10 Lynn-Anne Graham announced her daughter Sage would be given a passport by Passport Canada. The document will allow her to head to Disneyland, on a trip that was offered to her by volunteer organization Dreams Take Flight.
The mother of a six-year-old cancer survivor is blaming red tape at Passport Canada for nearly preventing her daughter from getting cancer treatment in the U.S. and taking part in a dream trip to Disneyland.
Lynn-Anne Graham’s daughter Sage was diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumour when she was four years old. She received treatment but went into relapse earlier this year and needed specialized cancer treatment in Seattle, Washington.
Graham applied for a passport for Sage in February, paying an extra $110 to have it expedited, knowing they could get the call any day to start treatment.
She said the passport didn’t come in time and she took Sage to the U.S. for treatment without one.
“The border guards were nice, thank goodness,” Graham said.
Graham says she has legal documents proving she has sole custody of Sage. She says the reasons Passport Canada has given for denying her daughter a passport keep changing.
“They’ve called me to request some new information,” she said. “They’ve requested all my previous court documents. They called me and I’ve been like, oh, they called me, maybe they have our passport ready. Then I contact them back and it turns out they want more information on this or more information on that.”
Graham filed an official complaint with Passport Canada on July 17 and is still waiting to hear back.
There is another reason Sage needs her passport. She has been offered a trip to Disneyland from Dreams Take Flight, a volunteer organization that offers dream trips to kids facing medical challenges. She was originally slated to go to Disneyland in September, but had to postpone the trip due to a relapse.
Without a passport, she won’t be able to go.
Immigration lawyer Len Saunders said he is “very surprised” to hear of Graham’s issues with Passport Canada.
“I handle many, many cases of Canadians entering the U.S., of which a lot of them are minors and I’ve never seen Passport Canada holding up a Canadian passport when one of the parents has sole custody,” he said. “I’ve never seen it.”
In a statement, Passport Canada said their approach to cases involving custody, separation and divorce aims to “protect the rights of all parties while also attempting to prevent child abduction.”
Sage missed her first dream trip because of her cancer relapse. Her mother hopes red tape doesn’t ruin her second chance.
“It almost feels abusive because I look at what my daughter has been through and… she deserves some good things coming to her,” Graham said.
— With files from Jill Bennett
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