Anti-radicalization workshop educating Canadians
WINNIPEG — An anti-radicalization group is travelling across Canada to educate parents and teenagers about the dangers of extremism.
Christianne Boudreau lost her son Damian Clairmont in 2014 after he died fighting for ISIS in Syria. Now she is sharing her experience to make communities aware of radicalization.
“They start going in a different direction, the severe direction, disconnecting from their usual group of friends, becoming more private, perhaps dropping out of school,” she said.
The Calgary mother started seeing a change in her son in 2008 when he converted to Islam and disconnected with his surroundings.
“He met somebody who introduced him to the literature and different areas online to go to reinforce what they were saying and then introduced him to a group,” said Boudreau.
A few years later in 2012, Clairmont said he was going to Egypt to study Arabic because he might want to become an Imam. Boudreau later found out he was actually on his way to Turkey for extremist training camps, eventually leading him to ISIS.
That’s why she’s speaking to Canadians with Extreme Dialogue which launched in Canada in February 2015. The project is funded by the federal government.
“Growing up in Canada we’re told this is a peaceful country and this doesn’t happen here,” said Boudreau.
This year alone, at least two people were suspected of extremist behavior in Winnipeg.
“A few will go overseas or indulge in violence,” said Shahina Siddiqui of the Islamic Social Services Association. “We are also concerned of the larger youth community that’s feeling marginalized, that’s feeling rejected.”
Daniel Gallant knows what radicalization is like. For a decade he was part of a group that nearly cost him his life.
“I thought I was doing a right and a righteous act and becoming engaged in a necessary war in order to save a necessary element in society,” said Gallant.
Through the anti-radicalization workshops, he is hoping to spread awareness about the importance of seeking help.
“Where there’s any contradiction or in-congruence between what’s being said and whats being done, those are key identifying points of when to reach out,” he said.
The goal is to make Canadians aware of the signs before it’s too late.
“We need to be much more open and honest,” she said. “As a family if we had the awareness we may have been able to intervene, I would have been looking for signs,” said Boudreau.
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