Immigration irony

Maria Lua da Silva isn’t enjoying the Nova Scotia fall after being deported back to Brazil.

We want to put our best face forward when selling ourselves to tourists, so when the provincial tourism department placed an ad in the Chronicle-Herald promoting its "Doers and Dreamers" guide for visitors, it made sense to put some pretty faces on the cover.

There's a smiling old guy paddling a pumpkin boat, a mixed-race couple dining on the lawn of a bed and breakfast and just the cutest little girl you've ever seen, sitting in a field of pumpkins.

Problem is, that cute kid, five-year-old Maria Lua da Silva, daughter of Paula and Azeitona da Silva, was deported last year, after her parents' refugee claim was rejected. Back in their native Brazil, the da Silvas are now applying to immigrate through a provincial sponsorship program, and hope to reestablish themselves at the capoeira dance studio they started in Halifax.

Capoeira is a Brazillian art that mixes martial arts, dance, poetry and song.

Tourism officials were taken by surprise when notified of Maria Lua's immigration problems, but said her family was paid through a contract with the Colour advertising firm. Colour is paid $50 every time the image is used.

Paula da Silva says she was paid $250 for a photo shoot with her daughter, but laughs off the irony of Maria Lua being used to promote tourism. "Maybe it will help our immigration file," she says. —Tim Bousquet

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