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'Wonderful to have him in my arms again': Families separated by border restrictions reunite at Peace Arch Provincial Park
SURREY, B.C. -- The day Peace Arch Provincial Park reopened, dozens of couples and families turned up from either side of the border to be reunited with their loved ones.
Anxious to see each other, Birgit Heinbach and Ian Geddes were right there with them.
"It’s just wonderful to have him in my arms again," said Heinbach on Thursday. "That’s what we’ve been really missing for so many weeks now."
CTV News caught up with the couple back in April. The pair are newlyweds, married last November, currently working on getting her a green card. But when the border closed on March 21, the two were separated: Geddes at his home in Blaine and Heinbach at her home in South Surrey.
"It’s been really, really tough mentally. Seven weeks tomorrow that we’ve been apart," said Geddes, adding that he’s been keeping busy with home renovations.
Heinbach is a front-line health worker, but when she’s not at work, the two have been on FaceTime, Skype, and even met a couple of times at 0 Avenue.
Many other couples and families have also done that over the last few months. And it seems the border restrictions to non-essential travel are going to be extended. The U.S. and Canada are in talks right now with the looming deadline of May 21.
During his daily briefing outside Rideau Cottage, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he understands the "difficulty and the challenge that closing the borders to all but non-essential travel is causing on many, many families."
"I think his comments were very disappointing," said immigration lawyer Len Saunders. "I see this as essential. As long as you have a spouse, I don’t see any reason why that person can’t go back and forth over the border either once or multiple times." He wants to see an exception made for immediate family members to allow them to cross, even once so they can ride out this pandemic together.
"These are newlyweds who can’t spend nights together. It’s sad," said Saunders.
But when asked about exceptions, Trudeau said,"I can’t comment on every case obviously." And he went on to say that what we are doing now is "what we need to do to keep Canadians safe for the coming months and years."
"He’s got no emotion or no sympathy for families that are completely separated," said Geddes, adding that he’s been living in almost total isolation this entire time. "I have no connection with people other than going to the store and getting food."
But until the government deems immediate families should be able to reconnect, Geddes and Heinbach have Peace Arch Park.