Struggling to find the motivation to complete end of year school work, finding a last minute prom date, studying late nights for exams, preparing for graduation, bracing for post high school life and starting university away from home are the only problems I should have to deal with.
As an 18-year-old on Canada's "no-fly list," I've realized what it means to be an adult and adjust to the responsibilities that come with it, I also have to deal with many fears and anxieties that most other people around my age do not have to face like boarding a plane with my friends an having to deal with any issues that may leave me stranded in a country not my own.
Flashback to 2015 and my family's first encounter with the no-fly list at Bangalore Airport in India.
I remember it like it was yesterday, my dad staring at the official with a confused look on his face and my mom having a meltdown. A family of four law abiding, tax paying citizens are banned from returning to their own country. What?
With my father's abilities to be diplomatic, polite and extremely reactive, he was able to interact with the airline officials, call embassies and get them to release the ban. And they did it without so much of an explanation or an apology. At the time of our encounter with the no-fly list we didn't know much about the problem and we moved past the experience believing that it may have been an isolated "incident."
When the story broke about six-year-old Adam Ahmed, my mom knew exactly what the issue was. My name had to be on a list.
My government has me on the list as someone to watch as being a potential threat.
The list is incredibly terrifying for anyone that's on it and this is not limited to people from the Islamic faith or who have an Arabic sounding last name. Many Canadian children between six months to 18 years old from various races, religions, sexes, creeds and cultures are on the same Canadian no-fly list as me.
My mom joined forces with other parents and they formed the group #NoFlyListKids. From what I understand, any Canadian can be on this list, your son, your grandchild, your niece, your dad, your brother or your neighbor who is a veteran. Nobody is exempt and nobody is safe. The Canadian DHP No-Fly-List is not only terrifying because it restricts my ability to fly but because of what it means to be on the list.
My government has me on the list as someone to watch as being a potential threat. Even worse the Canadian Government now shares this information with foreign countries. So I and other Canadian youths like Harrison Vien (who turned 18 like me this year) are no longer on the list as kids but now as adults.
Now as an adult I can no longer rely on any other person to resolve any problems should they arise, I will be alone and I'm scared. This list exists and creates a barrier for me and discourages the idea of travel because I have to remind myself that there could be a problem with flying from anywhere in the world.
The recent terrorist attacks have certainly not made this anxiety any easier to deal with as it surely encourages airport officials and security to be more cautious and strict with any sign of danger. If I ever need to travel to another country and have trouble on the way home, it scares me that I will have incredible difficulty through either language barrier or through varying policies that different airports can have.
Even with my fears, I consider myself lucky that I possess some abilities that may help me solve these issues should they arise. I fear for the other people on this list who may not speak the language or not be as brave.
If the prime minister's own children were on the Canadian no-fly list how long would it take to fix this?
I realize that this could be an expensive problem to fix, and since it's not a priority, it may not be fixed right away. But this is a really big issue. Over 46 Canadian families have already come forward and I'm sure there are hundreds if not thousands of names that will emerge.
The other no-fly list kids have it in writing from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security we are not on U.S. No-Fly-Lists. This problem is Canadian. So the solution must also be Canadian.
Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale announced on June 10, 2016 the creation of the Passenger Protect Inquiries Office where he advised the families the Canadian "no-fly list" was designed in a flawed manner without the capacity to be interactive or to clear false positives electronically in advance. Minister Goodale stated that it needs a complete overhaul which will take some time and investment.
To date our parents have received no updates or timelines for completion to ensure both transparency and accountability. If the prime minister's own children were on the Canadian no-fly list how long would it take to fix this?
We're fortunate our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also the minister for youth and we really hope that he will pull through for us. We Canadian youth request within one year of Minister Goodale's announcement earlier this summer -- June 10, 2017 -- a permanent solution will be in place for Canadian children. We look forward to Prime Minister Trudeau committing to that date.
Let's get us kids off the list, let's #fixthis
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