'Why did you do this?' Mother of Canadian killed in Syria speaks at youth radicalization conference
Published Thursday, September 11, 2014 4:34PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 16, 2014 2:19PM EDT
The mother of a Calgary man who was killed while fighting in Syria says his radicalization and death have been “one of the most difficult challenges of my life.”
Christianne Boudreau spoke Thursday at a Calgary conference aimed at preventing the radicalization of Muslim youth.
A recent report from the federal government found that a “small but notable” number of Canadians have travelled to countries like Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan to participate in terrorism-related activities.
Among them was Boudreau’s son, 22-year-old Damian Clairmont. He had reportedly converted to Islam and travelled to Syria in November 2012. News of his death reached Canada in January.
At Thursday’s Calgary Muslim Summit, which kicked off a four-day “Own It 2014” conference, Boudreau said she was shocked to find out that her son had gone to Syria, CTV’s Alberta Bureau Chief Janet Dirks reported.
“The biggest question I ask today is why did you do this and did you love us anymore?” Boudreau said.
She said she doesn’t want her son to have died in vain and would like to help other families before it’s too late.
Boudreau said she’d like to see a community program that would provide support and counselling for families who are concerned about their children.
Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson also spoke at the summit, telling the audience that Canadian jihadists who return home are “angry, well-trained” and “isolated.”
Hanson said that makes them dangerous, Dirks reported.
Summit organizers said their main objective is to “improve the way we participate with law enforcement, government, academia, media, and other stakeholders in preventing crime and promoting youth empowerment.”
“We believe that by working together to empower youth we can prevent criminal radicalization.”
With files from The Canadian Press