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Protestors hope to draw attention Abdoul Abdi case at Trudeau town hall

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will host a town hall meeting at Sackville High School Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Abdoul Abdi, right, was brought to Canada as a 6-year-old and is now facing deportation to a country he hasn't seen for 20 years. CITYNEWS

Many Nova Scotians are expected to show up at Sackville High School Tuesday night for the prime minister's town hall meeting, including a group of protesters hoping to rally support for a former child refugee facing deportation.

Abdoul Abdi came to Canada at the age of six after fleeing Somalia, then spent nearly a decade in foster care in Halifax.

The 23-year-old has just finished serving a prison sentence for aggravated assault and now faces deportation.

Activist El Jones, who is organizing the protest, said Justin Trudeau has portrayed Canada as a country that welcomes refugees.

"If Trudeau believes that we are a welcoming place, and this is what Canada's values are, then Trudeau needs to address this, he needs to challenge what's happening to people in this country," she said.

Abdi's lawyer Benjamin Perryman said children's services failed to apply for citizenship on his behalf when he was a child, adding Nova Scotia does not have any policies when it comes to non-citizen children in their care.

"In Abdoul's case, his aunt tried to get (citizenship) for him three times, and they told her, since he was in the care of the state, she wasn't able to do that," explained Jones. "The most basic right, the right to have citizenship and status, has been stripped from these children, and now they're trying to send Abdoul to Somalia."

Jones said she's not making excuses for Abdi's crime, but he did his time and he deserves a chance to move on with his life.

"It's very easy once someone has committed a crime to say, 'Get him out of Canada,' but I think people can also look with more context and understand that much of the abuse and trauma that Abdoul experienced contributed to that, and I hope people can take that into consideration."

She hopes Tuesday's rally will motivate those attending the town hall to ask Trudeau about Abdi's situation.

In an interview with NEWS 95.7's The Sheldon MacLeod, Trudeau said he can't speak about any specific case, but said deportation decisions are not taken lightly.

"We have a compassionate system, but we also have a rules-based system," he said. "We have a country where Canadians are more positively inclined towards immigration and refugees than just about any other country in the world."

Trudeau added the case will be taken seriously, "making sure we're defending, both our system, and the compassion with which we approach people in need of help."

Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the community editor for
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