Sahab Jamshidi is charged with causing death by gross negligence or recklessness in the drowning of Terrel Joshua Elibox — a charge the Royal St. Lucia Police Force says carries a possible sentence of life in prison.
Jamshidi's supporters maintain he was trying to help the child after seeing him struggle in the water in February.
His longtime friend Stephen Verbeek says a court hearing Thursday will determine whether the case goes to trial.
Verbeek, who travelled to St. Lucia to help his friend, says Jamshidi has been freed on bail but can't leave the island country.
He says he plans to come home to the Hamilton area this weekend if the charge is thrown out, but it's unclear when Jamshidi would be able to return.
New information recently came to light that gave the pair hope and they can now see "a potential light at the end of this tunnel," Verbeek told The Canadian Press on Wednesday.
"It's still extremely stressful and difficult, as you can imagine, because a trial for manslaughter here can go well over 10 years, which completely turns our lives upside down," he said.
"It is still very possible that this could go to trial. We most likely won't be sleeping tonight," he said.
"Depending on how this goes, we could either be in wild jubilation or dead silence in grief."
Jamshidi, who previously went to school in St. Lucia, had returned there for a visit when the incident took place, his friend said.
Police said investigators were told Terrel was given a ride by a kite surfer on Feb. 22, fell into the sea and submerged.
The boy's family members told a local TV station they had no idea he was missing until a man approached Terrel's grandmother, saying he'd taken the boy on his surfboard and the child had fallen off.
Verbeek has offered a different account, saying Jamshidi was kitesurfing when he saw the child bobbing in the water and unsuccessfully tried to save him.
Others who have rallied in his defence online have pointed to an incident last fall when Jamshidi helped an injured young man he encountered while cycling on a Hamilton trail.