Letter from Johanne Durocher, May 24, 2017

Hello to all Nathalie’s supporters,

It’s been a long time already since I’ve given you news about Nathalie and her children. In January 2012, a representative from Affairs visited Nathalie and asked her to close her Facebook group and her website. In exchange, this government official promised Nathalie that she would be back in Canada in about six months. We agreed, but I did say to that woman that even though I accepted to close these, I was not abandoning my daughter and my (at the time) three grandchildren.

Now, five years later and after giving birth to another child, Nathalie has yet to be back in Canada. Her situation is still disastrous. She lives with the help of charity and neighbours, anonymous donors and mothers from the school of my granddaughter Sarah who give her a bit of money and food. Obviously, Saeed, the father of the children whom she calls “the monster”, is still just as violent as he was before, not only with her, but also with their children, and even more so with Samir, the eldest, who was born here in Canada.

About a year ago, Saeed violently assaulted Samir and attempted to strangle him in a fit of anger. Samir’s teacher noticed the marks on his neck and made a complaint to the Saudi government who, in response, met with Saeed and instructed him not to do this again, and asked Samir not to say anything to the Canadian government.

So now Samir is not only scared of his father, he is also scared of the Canadian government. Violence against women and children that are denied their most elementary human rights and their dignity is something that I can never accept and that I will always speak out against.

As for Saeed, he refuses to work and he lives with what Nathalie struggles to bring back home – charity and the little money she gets from giving English lessons in the homes of a few clients. Because Nathalie does not have an Iqama (Saudi residence permit), she can’t get a job. But anyway, for a woman, finding a job in Saudi Arabia is very difficult and Nathalie has no training, so it would be almost impossible.

All this to say that almost nothing has changed except for the political landscape. Francine Lalonde, my ally in this battle since the very beginning, passed away, Justin Trudeau was elected and several MPs or senators who helped me a lot with Nathalie’s case retired. Moreover, Saudi Arabia was ridiculously elected to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women for a four years term. I have to say I find this absurd. I see this wind of change as an opportunity to resume my fight to free Nathalie and her children.

I just sent an email to the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, because I would like to meet him. Also, the support committee for Nathalie is still active, having never been dissolved.

So, in the upcoming months, you will hear more about Nathalie’s case and I will try to post letters regularly to give you news as developments unfold. 

I want to warmly thank you for not giving up after all these years. Without your support, Nathalie’s battle would have been forgotten a long time ago.

In several biblical passages, God frees people from captivity and there is a verse that says: “Don't be afraid: I'm with you. I'll round up all your scattered children, pull them in from east and west. I'll send orders north and south: 'Send them back.“ (Isaiah 43:5). I put my faith and find my strength in this verse to resume this hard battle with the help of Nathalie’s support committee.

Thank you everyone for not giving up.

Johanne Durocher,

Nathalie’s mother and Samir, Abdullah, Sarah and Fowaz’s grandmother