Fatouma Abdi is speaking out and fighting on behalf of her brother, Abdoul Abdi.
“People don’t understand the story, and what I mean by that is that people just think that he came as an adult or something and that he came here to break the law, and now that he broke the law and he’s looking at going back to Somalia, that he’s basically crying for help but that’s not how it is,” she said.
Fatouma and Abdoul came to Canada as child refugees. She was seven and he was six years old.
Once in the country, the pair were taken from their aunts and placed in foster care, where they were shuffled around to different homes for years.
“He got bounced around more times than I could ever count. We went through mental, physical abuse,” said Fatouma.
“There was no help ever given to us. There was no therapy ever given to my brother and he was just chucked around like a piece of animal — like animals don’t even get treated like that.”
WATCH: PM responds to Abdoul Abdi’s possible deportation to Somalia
Abdi got in trouble with the law and ended up serving more than four years in prison for various offences including aggravated assault.
The 24-year-old is now out of prison and working in Toronto on a research project looking at the connection between the child welfare system and the criminal justice system.
But he’s facing deportation to Somalia. That’s because the Nova Scotia government never applied for citizenship while he was in their care as a child.
“I think that it’s really unfair that now that he’s done his time for his crime that they’re trying to further punish him for something that the government failed to do,” said Fatouma.
“Now that he’s out, he’s trying to better his life. He’s working with kids. It breaks my heart because he has a daughter. He’s trying to be a father and they’re basically trying to take all of that away from him again and I don’t get it.”
Fatouma says neither she or her brother have any connections to Somalia.
“We don’t know the culture, we don’t know the language. We have absolutely no family back home and it’s dangerous,” she said. “It’s so dangerous now that I guess Canadian officials don’t even dare to go there but they’re going to send my brother there.”
Activist and family friend El Jones says what’s central to Abdoul’s case is that the failure was the government’s failure.
“He paid for his own mistakes, which he had to. He paid in a prison sentence. But he’s paying for everybody else’s mistakes as well and I don’t think that’s fair. Meanwhile, our government hasn’t been accountable in any way to what’s happened,” said Jones.
“I was hoping that they’d take responsibility and that they’d just dismiss this whole entire case but instead of owning up to their mistake, they’re just trying to rush through everything,” added Fatouma.
Jones says what is happening to Abdoul is a systemic issue, one that impacts many more people across the country.
“Fliss Cramman was a case a couple of years ago. She had been taken into foster care and they didn’t get her citizenship. So this is a neglect that’s been going on for years,” she said.
“They have not closed this gap and they’ve continued to punish people who have been taken into care who are already abused, who are already in situations where they are the most vulnerable and what they’ve been denied is the right to have rights. So once you’re not a citizen, you don’t even have the most basic rights.”
WATCH: Fliss Cramman given permanent residency after lengthy deportation battle
Rather than fix the gap in the system, Jones says the government is focused on punishing Abdoul.
“Even though he’s been doing everything he’s been told to do, by no fault of his own, he’s being punished over and over again,” said Jones.
Ben Perryman, the lawyer representing Abdoul, says he will ask the federal court this week to keep the status quo and for a temporary stop to the deportation order until the case can be fully heard.
Perryman says if the status quo isn’t kept, Abdoul will lose his right to work and his right to health care and will “be harmed in a way that can’t be undone.”
“If he can’t work, he can’t meet his parole conditions, that means he can be returned to jail. When he was in jail in immigration detention, he was in solitary confinement which has been declared unconstitutional in the B.C. courts but he will be eligible for that again. So do people think it’s right that he be sent to solitary confinement for no reason, for holding a job and then being told that he can’t?” said Jones.
The hearing is scheduled to take place on Thursday at the law courts in Halifax starting at 9:30 a.m.
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