A Chilliwack man who gained international attention for taking a stand against racism is facing deportation in three weeks because of his past as a white extremist.
Thirteen years ago, Nicky Cooper moved to Canada from the U.K. where he was a member of the neo-Nazi group Combat 18.
“It absolutely rips my heart out to think that something that I did when I was just a kid is affecting my children and my wife to this very day,” Cooper said.
Cooper has been upfront about his racist past, saying he wanted to turn his life’s mistakes into a powerful message.
He is now an active member of the anti-racism group Life after Hate and has participated in other inclusive initiatives.
WATCH: Chilliwack anti-racism activist facing deportation
Earlier this summer, Cooper covered up neo-Nazi messaging he found under a bridge.
After painting over the graffiti, he posted photos to Twitter along with the message: “Goodbye racist graffiti, not in my town, thank you.”
The tweet quickly went viral and Cooper received messages of support from around the world.
“Someone can sit here and say, ‘I’ve changed, I’ve changed, I’ve changed,’ but I always think actions actually speak louder than words,” he said back in September.
WATCH: Chilliwack man gains worldwide attention for standing up to racism
Still, the Canada Border Services Agency said he needs to be back in the U.K. by the end of the month.
“I’ve never known him as the person that they say he is,” said daughter Ostara Cooper. “I just never thought it would happen to us.”
Cooper already applied for ministerial relief and temporary permanent residency but those applications have yet to be processed.
“I think that if someone is able to take a look at that application in the next three weeks they’ll see that the reasons for Nick staying in Canada are there,” said Tess Acton, Cooper’s immigration lawyer at Maynard Kischer Stojicevic.
A request to give Cooper an extension until after Christmas was also denied.
“This sort of lack of compassion, I think, is uncommon given Nick’s length of time in Canada,” added Acton. “He’s not a risk to Canada.”
Cooper says his deportation would literally rip his family apart. His wife and daughters are staying in Canada for school and work while he plans to bring his youngest son with him to the U.K.