Canada's first school-based program to counter radicalization was launched in Calgary on Tuesday.
- Damian Clairmont killed fighting with al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria
- Syria’s civil war: key facts, important players
Extreme Dialogue is an online resource for teachers, community leaders and parents. The new program, unveiled in an event at the University of Calgary, includes a series of short films and educational resources designed to help young people understand and ultimately avoid a path to radicalization.
Last year CBC News reported that several young men born and raised in Calgary have become radicalized and travelled to Syria to join up with jihadist groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
In January 2014 Calgary man Damian Clairmont, 22, who had converted to Islam and changed his name to Mustafa al-Gharib, was killed while fighting with al-Qaeda linked rebels in Syria.
Clairmont’s mother, Christianne Boudreau, shares the story of her son’s progression toward radicalization in a video as part of the project.
- Click on the image above to watch that video
Rachel Briggs, a counter-extremism expert at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue in the UK, which helped create the program, says it's all about reaching young people before they leave.
"These resources will not bring somebody back from Syria. What we're aiming for here is starting early, working with young people, building up the critical skills that they unfortunately do need today," she said.
"We can't shield our young people from this kind of content. They will come across it in their bedrooms on their iPhones, and on their tablets. Therefore what's really important is that our young people have the know-how to recognize this propaganda for what it is."