Walk with Us: Part I
* This is the first of a multi-part series we call 'Walk with Us' which presents how we fled from Canada to Saint Pierre et Miquelon. In Part I we look at the general guidelines and strategies for successfully fleeing Canada. Part II is a step-by-step checklist, including preparations, documents of identity, packing and organizing, selecting your destination, planning your route and dealing with problems along the way. We will also present profile of successful Superdads, important support roles, etc. In Part III we will cover how we travelled to Saint Pierre et Miquelon and the asylum process. Finally, Part IV will explore making a home in France.
Successfully fleeing from abuse takes a great deal of determination, organization and foresight, and it will never roll out to be perfect. You have to be absolutely sure that fleeing is the only viable option or you may seriously regret your decision after it is too late. Whether you are going alone or bringing your whole family, careful and thoughtful planning is the key to success. Often times, a step-by-step approach must be taken.
This guide is divided into two parts: the first is strategies to consider at all times; and the second is detailed step-by-step instructions. This guide was derived from our own experiences as well as those of other Supermoms and Superdads who fled to protect their children. Only you will know if you have to flee Canada. Only you can make those decisions.
1. Either use technology or don't. If you are unable to guarantee security, inability to trace, anonymity and so on, don't even try. Just bring books to read and some crayons. Use paper maps and map books, or even a GPS device separate from the vehicle that nobody knows about. It is definitely beneficial to have laptops, burn phones, China servers and all that, but if you can't guarantee your anonymity and make your way without being traced for certain, don't even try. It may prove to be more frustrating than it is worth.
2. Flexibility is really important. You may have to double back, take alternate routes and spend hours on the road that you didn't even consider. This is all part of it. You should always give consideration to the road conditions, security at ports and borders, presence of police, etc. It is better to stop and plot an alternate route than gun ahead into what you know might be a bad situation. You should always have a Plan A, B and C at the ready.
3. Limit your use of friends. It is best to use one or two close friends or family members to be your voice. Their duties may include managing social media, web sites and e-mail, helping to navigate, shipping things, running errands, etc. They become a control centre for your operation and should be readily available in a pinch. One of the most important roles assigned to your friends is to establish news and social media accounts prior to departure. These folks should be technically savvy.
4. Be alert. Watch and listen for what is happening around you. Listen for police activity, news about you, road and travel conditions, weather, etc. This being said, it is important to keep things in perspective. News outlets are often just loudspeakers for police agencies. Don't believe the hype, but don't ignore it. Always know where you are and who to avoid. Cautiously assess your recognition factor in any given place. Try to fit in as best you can.
5. Change things up and engage countermeasures. Change appearance, use fictitious names, if you are reportedly alone, stick to a friend, if you're reported to be with a friend, remain alone. Have a few stories to rely on, stick to them. Send false flags. Reduce the likelihood that anyone will recognize you. Lie to people when you have to, but don't lie when you don't. Lie about your location, but not your overall purpose. The police see being lied to as an affront to their awesomeness and authoritarian manhood. Best not to say anything to them.
6. Pack smart and be at the ready. Ensure that you have non-perishable foods, drinks, medication, documents of identity, clothing and everything else you may need. The next section goes into great detail about this. Be ready to go at any time. Practice. Bring times down. Everyone has a job. Pack to travel (see next section for details). Nobody brings report cards and university degrees when they go on vacation, so arrange for all other material to be shipped at a later date.
7. Go with the flow. Travel with the masses. Speak the local language. If you take the appropriate measures to conceal your identity, you will have no difficulty blending in. Remember that people remember the weird guy, the ones who stand out. Be nice, be kind. Let your appointed voices do the work and never get sucked into an argument with naysayers. If people confront you, look confused and shake your head 'no'. If you're made, quietly tell the that the lives of your children rely on what you're going and ask them please not to send them back to an abusive place. Cry.
8. Draw the line of no return. There may well be false starts. This is to say that you will set the conditions of departure, but there will always be false alarms. However, once you have reached a certain phase of your plan, there is no turning back. Know and understand that line. Stick to it. Usually the line of no return is crossed when geopolitical or criminal boundaries have been crossed, or when authorities send alerts. It is your call where to draw that line in your plan, but obey it. Exercise great caution when deciding when to cross it.
9. Cash. Only cash. Native currency. If you have to exchange currency, use a currency exchange that doesn't require identification or a large box store. If you need to wire money, use Western Union or some other reasonably anonymous service. Keep your bank cards and credit cards for later use, but expect that they will be stopped. Definitely make alternate arrangements for getting money. Plan for this. Reloadable credit cards like Stack, Koho and others are great but pay attention to how they are loaded. They will always trace back.
10. Know the language. If you are entering into a different country, or even a different part of your own country, know at least some of the language or equip with an app or device that will help you translate. There are several free apps that will help learn the basics of any language in the world. Be prepared. Think of what you might need, say or ask and practice.