Three American women living in the polygamous B.C. community of Bountiful have been ordered to leave the country by Canada Immigration.
Edith Barlow, Martha Chatwin, and Zelpha Chatwin are all married to the former Bishop of Bountiful, Winston Blackmore. Among them, they have 16 children, all of whom were born in Canada.
But the women are still American citizens, and their applications to remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds have been denied.
The children can stay in Canada with their father, and his more than 20 other wives.
The three women can’t apply to immigrate as spouses, because they are not legally married. And they don’t qualify as skilled workers, or as students.
They may still be able to appeal to Federal Court, or ask the Canada Border Services Agency to make a detrmination as to whether their safety would be at risk in the U.S.
Failing that, they may simply refuse to leave. Some other women in Bountiful have already vowed they won’t let Canadian Immigration officials separate children from their parents.
The controversial community in siutheastern B.C. has an estimated population of more than 1,000 people. It was established in the late 1940s by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – a breakaway sect of the Mormon church.