The community of Emerson opened its doors to some unexpected visitors on the weekend. Over a dozen asylum seekers were caught crossing illegally into Canada near Emerson.
Brenda Piet, acting emergency coordinator for the community, says it all started with a phone call from Canada Border Services Agency at the Emerson port of entry on Saturday morning.
"They asked if we would be able to help them with a group of 14 refugees that had arrived between Friday evening and Saturday morning. They didn't have enough room to house them while they processed them so we opened up the community centre where we provided beds for the families. They were hungry and requested some bread and Nutella, which they devoured."
The group, made up of adults and children, are from the countries of Somalia and Djibouti, Africa. They made their way into Manitoba through the abandoned border crossing at Noyes, Minnesota which is right next to Emerson. After being processed by CBSA staff, they were eventually transported to Winnipeg.
These families, like the hundreds of others before them over the past number of years, jumped the border seeking asylum in Canada.
When individuals attempting an illegal border crossing, they are taken into custody by RCMP and brought to the Emerson border crossing, where they can make a refugee claim. Between April and December of last year, a total of 410 refugee claimants had been intercepted near Emerson while crossing into Canada.