Couple weds to get around U.S.-Canada border closure

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WINNIPEG, Manitoba – It’s not quite a green card marriage, but the result is the same.

Saralyn Russell lives in Winnipeg, Canada. Her fiancée Rachael lives in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

They’re only a three-hour drive from each other, but have been separated for more than three months because of the U.S.-Canada border closure.

“We’re used to seeing each other every weekend,” Russell said.

They were engaged before COVID-19 hit, then everything fell apart. Now the couple has made a quick decision.

“We are only getting married this Monday because the government will not let her in if we don’t do this,” says Russell. “She’s not allowed to enter Canada at all. And I’m not allowed to drive to America. But I am allowed to fly because that’s how they’ve decided to handle the situation.”

Russell will fly to Minneapolis and then drive four hours to Grand Forks. They’ll get married with two witnesses they’ve hired.

“It certainly wasn’t going to be like this under all this pressure. It’s kind of become more of a legal transaction because we’re trying to respect the policies in place, rather than an actual ceremony.”

Russell says the hardest part is not knowing when they’ll see each other again.

“A lot of tears, a lot of dashed hopes, every time the border closure gets near the end, we all get really excited and make plans, and then a couple days before, it’s always being extended another 30 days. They’re basically saying if we don’t get married, we don’t consider your partner to be essential,” says Russell.

The wedding will be bittersweet. They’ll have four days together before Russell has to return to Canada. And when she does return, she’ll have to self-isolate.

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