Family reunited in Saskatchewan after spending 3 years an ocean apart – Saskatoon

A family of seven is finally together in Saskatchewan after three years of living on separate continents.

Joy Maxwell came to Canada three years ago from Nigeria.

She was looking to complete her certification as a licensed practical nurse and had to leave her five children and her husband, Maxwell Opara, behind with hopes of bringing them to Canada one day. Her youngest son was just 11 months old when she left.

At first, Maxwell said she planned to be away for six weeks. But it was Aug. 1 of this year that she went to Nigeria get her family. They flew into Regina International Airport on Saturday morning.

‘It’s just like a dream.’
– Joy Maxwell

“I’m still searching for a word to describe my excitement. It’s just like a dream,” Joy Maxwell said.

“Today, we went out shopping and I was, like, ‘Am I dreaming? I can actually go shopping with my family.’ Because it has always been all by myself.”

After Maxwell got her nursing licence, she decided living in Canada would be a better choice for her family. She started the long process of immigration paperwork.

The family was denied visas twice.

Many times throughout the years, Maxwell said she packed up her stuff and prepared to book a ticket home for good, sick of being so far away from her family.

“It’s really a tough pill to swallow. The role a mother plays in the life of her kids, especially my girls — they were getting into teenage years when I left and they had so many questions,” she said.

The family was also divided by a time difference of seven hours.

“When I am awake they are sleeping and when I’m sleeping they are awake. So most of the day I had to keep awake to talk to them,” Maxwell said.

Despite all the challenges, they spoke every day.

A new home on the Prairies

Raising five kids alone for three years wasn’t easy, Opara said. He often had to get advice from his wife, especially when it came to their teenage daughters.

Maxwell Opara and his five children in Nigeria. (Facebook/Maxwell Opara)

Still, he said he never questioned Maxwell’s decision, even when there were struggles.

“She had never lived on her own and she was ready to do that. I saw it as a huge sacrifice. I needed to support her to realize her dream,” Opara said. “We didn’t even mind her absence. We knew that she was here in Canada for her own good.”

In the past year, Joy Maxwell began working as an LPN at the health centre in the town of Lanigan, which is about 120 kilometres southeast of…

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