In the span of 18 days, Mamadi III Fara Camara has gone from anonymous engineering lab instructor, to being pulled out the driver’s window of his car and arrested for attacking a police officer, to spending six nights in jail, to receiving an official police apology.
And now, the 31-year-old PhD student is capping off the whirlwind with a decidedly happier piece of news: the House of Commons has voted unanimously in favour of a motion to grant him permanent resident status.
Camara arrived in Canada on a temporary student visa, which expires in mid-May.
While the motion is non-binding and the government stopped short of promising to follow through, a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said in an email that “we stand ready to support Mr. Camara and his family as they navigate the immigration process.”
“We are deeply disturbed by the treatment of Mamadi Fara Camara. It was unacceptable and we want to have clear answers about what happened,” said Alex Cohen, the minister’s press secretary.
“Applicants can include extenuating circumstances as part of the process for permanent residency, and these factors are seriously considered. Every case is subject to thorough review and analysis and decisions are only taken after careful consideration.”
The motion, tabled by the Bloc Québécois, called on Mendicino’s office “to grant permanent residence to Mamadi Fara Camara as soon as possible under article 25.1(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.” Quebec’s National Assembly also passed a similar resolution, also unanimously.
The article in question confers discretionary authority on the minister to grant permanent residence. From there, Camara — whose wife is expecting twins — could apply for citizenship.
Originally from Guinea, he arrived in 2017 to pursue a doctorate in telecommunications at Université Laval.
Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, who is Camara’s immigration lawyer, told Radio-Canada his client was “in a state of shock and in distress” and would not finish his thesis before his visa runs out. Under normal circumstances, student visa holders are expected to be full-time students — something that simply isn’t possible for Camara at the moment, his lawyer said.
Since his exoneration Camara, who has no criminal record, has also retained a civil lawyer who is exploring legal action against the city, its police service and perhaps the Crown.
In a televised interview on Sunday, he lifted the veil on what he called a “traumatizing” experience that isolated him from his loved ones and — temporarily at least — besmirched his reputation.
“My family knows who I am,” Camara told Radio-Canada’s Tout le monde en parle. “And they knew I was innocent. Even though we couldn’t speak.”
Camara’s duties at his lab at Polytechnique Montréal, where he has taught since early 2018, were suspended during the criminal proceedings and he was barred from campus. The school has invited him to come back when he is ready.
“Right now, it’s very hard to return,” he said.