The teen was born in France, but his father left when he was very young and his mother died a few years later, when he was 10. Relatives brought him to Canada illegally and until he was 16-years-old he was never enrolled in school. During that time Matthew watched other children head off to class while he did chores around the house.
His relatives never applied to make Matthew a legal resident of Canada.
By 2004, Matthew knew his relatives weren’t going to send him to school, so he took matters into his own hands and got himself enrolled at Eastdale Collegiate and quickly started earning top marks.
Then the enthusiastic student was informed that he had until July 23 to get out of the country – before he completed high school. He appealed to the government and enjoyed tremendous support from his fellow students, teachers and local politicians.
His website, helpmatthewstay.com, received 63,000 hits and the emails that flooded Immigration Minister Monte Solberg’s office may have helped sway the decision.
On Thursday the Ministry of Immigration gave Matthew a temporary resident’s permit that will allow him to stay in Canada for another three years. In the meantime, he can apply for landed immigrant status.
“The worst news turned out to be the best news I ever had in my life and I just don’t know what to say or, you know, how to thank everyone enough for all this,” Matthew said.
The teen’s former teacher and one of his main supporters, Bruce Lyne, was also pleased with the minister’s decision.
“Matthew now has a freedom to live the life he wants to live without being told where to live and where to go,” he explained.
The 18-year-old wasted no time in finding a job now that he’s in the country legally. He had an interview for a position at Canadian Tire Thursday afternoon. He has two more years of high school ahead of him and after that, he’s hoping to one day become a teacher or lawyer to give back to the community that helped him.