Canadian Web site aims to help mail-order brides

Wed Mar 12, 2008 4:12pm EDT
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By Natalie Armstrong

TORONTO, March 12 (Reuters) - Canada can be a bewildering, even frightening place for immigrant women who arrive as mail-order or Internet brides, but now they have a new Web site to help smooth the transition.

While the Canadian government says it does not track where foreign brides come from or how they met their Canadian spouses, those who work with immigrant women say they are seeing more and more brides who connected with their husbands online -- through matchmaking Web sites as well as chatrooms.

However, they often have little knowledge about where they will be living, what the local society is like or what legal rights they have in Canada as a new bride.

"We were seeing more and more foreign brides coming to us asking for help," said San San Sy, of Changing Together, a center for immigrant woman in Edmonton, Alberta, which helped launch the Internet help site

"The dream is for them to access the information before they come (to Canada)," she said.

Sy said foreign brides don't know where to find support and many are often shy or wary of seeking it. Others don't know their legal rights within a marriage or whether or not they have to have children.

"Sometimes the bride comes not knowing that she will be the live-in nanny to take care of aging parents," Sy said.

Some brides, she added, have seen e-mailed photos of the house they will live in -- but once they arrive are surprised to discover the house is in a small, remote town or in a rural area several kilometers from the nearest neighbor.   Continued...