New school program ‘Extreme Dialogue’ to fight radicalization of Canadian youth
WATCH ABOVE: New school-based program tackles issue of radicalization. Reid Fiest reports.
CALGARY – Christianne Boudreau spent hours searching the internet looking for her son who was radicalized and travelled to Syria to fight for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“I never thought I would be watching videos of Syria,” Boudreau said of a new and poignant video talking about her son, Damian Clairmont.
He died fighting for the extremist group ISIS in January 2014.
Today, she helped launch a new website and video campaign called “Extreme Dialogue.”
Visit the program website to watch the videos and to find more information on how to get involved with organizations like the Canadian Centre for Diversity, Islamic Relief Canada and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
Boudreau has not been shy about telling her son’s story, but now wants teens across Canada and the world about how her son lost his way.
Funded by the federal government, the campaign targets teens between 14 and 18 who could fall victim to extremist groups.
“We do sex ed, we do drug education, we do bullying and those difficult topics,” said Boudreau, adding that more needs to be done to educate about radicalization. “This is a part of our norm, this is part of our life today and we need to be educating our kids in this.”
The Calgary Police Service and the RCMP in Alberta are supporting the education effort.
Mounties say ISIS recruitment in Canada is very concerning, and knows no borders.
“There really isn’t one place that is different from the others. You know, it’s throughout Canada and it’s a problem we’re tackling with great vigilance,” RCMP Supt. Yvon de Champlain told Global News.
However, some say while a school based program may be effective to save some, it may be missing the teens most at risk.
Imam Abdi Hersy of the Muslim Council of Calgary says many of the ISIS inspired attacks around the world were committed by individuals with a criminal past, some who didn’t finish school.
“Those are the most likely to be radicalized and be attracted to ISIS and those extreme groups, because of the nature of their background,” said Hersy.
Boudreau said more needs to be done and hopes the message will get through to young people at risk.
“People need to realize it’s all of us, as a whole that need to step up and reach out,” she said hoping her video will be shown in classrooms and homes across Canada.
“We are just as exposed to the potential of these dangers.”
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