Parents of slain Halifax teen grapple with grief, anger: ‘No one listened’

Click to play video: 'Syrian refugee family traumatized after son murdered in Halifax'
Syrian refugee family traumatized after son murdered in Halifax
A Nova Scotia family is mourning the loss of 16-year-old Ahmad Maher Al Marrach, a Syrian refugee fatally stabbed at Halifax Shopping Centre on April 22. Three teenagers have been charged with second-degree murder. As Heidi Petracek reports, Al Marrach's grieving family says the boy's murder has shaken their belief of a better life in Canada – Apr 29, 2024

The parents of a teenaged boy who was killed earlier this week say their lives have been shattered, and the act of violence has them questioning the Canadian dream.

The family was among the thousands of Syrian refugees brought into Canada in 2016. They made Halifax their home.

Ahmad Al Marrach, 16, was third eldest in the family of seven children. His mother, Basima Al Jaji, says he was a devoted older sibling who not only helped prepare baby bottles, but slept next to his younger brother to help him fall asleep.

“He was peaceful. He was kind hearted and compassionate,” she said, speaking to Global News through an Arabic interpreter.

“He treated us all very well, including his siblings and especially his younger brother. He raised his younger brother.”

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Over the years, the parents say they’ve struggled to find a footing in their new country. The children have experienced violence in schools, they say, and there have been language barriers and financial difficulties.

Click to play video: 'Hundreds mourn 16-year-old Halifax homicide victim'
Hundreds mourn 16-year-old Halifax homicide victim

Last Monday, Ahmad was found badly injured in a parking garage at the Halifax Shopping Centre and later died in hospital. Halifax Regional Police have confirmed the teen had been stabbed.

Two 14-year-olds — a boy and a girl — have been charged with second-degree murder, with a bail hearing set for May 13. A third youth — aged 16 — was arrested and charged with second-degree murder this week. 

Ahmad’s father, Maher Al Marrach, says the family wants justice for their son.

“I want the person who killed my son to be judged like someone who has full awareness and full cognitive abilities,” he said, speaking thorugh an Arabic interpreter.

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Ahmad’s parents are also questioning the resources they’ve received through the years, to the point Al Jaji says she regrets leaving Syria.

“I came here wanting to protect my children. I left seeking safety, but we didn’t find any here,” she said.

She says Ahmad’s brother was also the victim of a stabbing last year. Since then, she’s been fighting to improve her family’s situation.

“I was talking to all the people begging them, wanting to leave the neighbourhood and no one listened,” she said.

Ahmad’s father is a construction worker by trade, but is awaiting surgery and is unable to work. In the meantime, the family says financial assistance has not been enough to afford rent and daily needs.

“Is it possible to welcome someone else when you yourself don’t have the resources to support them, and to give them all they need, and to give them the safety they require?” said Al Marrach.

“Look at my son,” added Al Jaji, with tears in her eyes. “What future does he have? He’s been killed.”

GoFundMe set up for the family had raised more than $63,000 as of Monday, and local mosques are providing extra supports.

Al Marrach and Al Jaji say they are grateful for the support, but want all families to feel safe in the community.

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“Today it was my son,” said Al Jaji. “Tomorrow it could be someone else.”

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