Grimsby teen on no fly list since he was 8, mom says

Young Harrison Vien just wanted to go to Disneyland — but that's when he was told he was a flight risk.

List of young Canadians who appear to be on travel watch list growing

Harrison Vien (top) is seen here with his mother in this family photo from around the time he was first stopped. Vien was told that he was on a no fly list when he was eight years old. (Pamela Vien)

Harrison Vien and his Grimsby family can't understand how the Ontario teen has been deemed a flight risk since he was just eight years old.

Vien joins a growing list of young Canadians — including a six-year-old and two toddlers — who appear to have been flagged on a no-fly list, which causes headaches when they travel.

The federal government says it is reviewing the issues swirling around these lists — and none too soon, says Vien's mother, Pamela.

"Really, how can a little Dutch kid be a risk?" she asked. "How could this happen? Will this be a lifelong thing?"

It kind of makes me feel trapped inside my own country.- Harrison Vien

The troubles first started for the family when heading to Disneyworld in 2007. When they tried to board a plane in Buffalo, an agent for Southwest Airlines said there was a problem, and Harrison couldn't board.

No explanations were given at first, his mom says. Then, two security guards showed up. Eventually, the Southwest employee told the family that the boy was on the no fly list.

"I said, 'What do you mean? He's eight!'" his mother said. "I just felt helpless."

'I was born and raised in Canada'

Eventually, the family was allowed on the plane, and made it to Disneyland. But on the way back, the same thing happened. Last year, Vien was stopped crossing the border heading into the U.S., and again was told he had been flagged. It's unclear if this problem originates from the Canadian or the U.S. side of the border.

Harrison Vien, now 17, says he wants to travel more, but worries that his name is on a no fly list and it will cause problems. (Pamela Vien)

With his 18th birthday fast approaching and a desire to travel more in his mind, Vien is now hoping something can be done to remove this hurdle.

"I don't understand how I could be on the list, as I was born and raised in Canada," he said. "It kind of makes me feel trapped inside my own country."

Public safety Canada spokesperson Mylène Croteau told CBC News that there are many reasons a person might be stopped while travelling.

"Delays may occur for passengers who have the same name as a person listed under the PPP (Passenger Protect Program), or another security-related list such as the U.S. no-fly list," she said.

"Other countries, as well as airlines, maintain various security-related lists with different criteria and thresholds, which may result in delays for individuals traveling to, from, or even within Canada."

Public safety minister reviewing cases

Vien and his mother say they have not yet contacted the Canadian or U.S. governments about the issue to see where the problem originates, but they plan to now that the publicity has prompted the government to examine cases like theirs.

The two became more concerned about the problem when reading about Syed Adam Ahmed, six-year-old Markham, Ont., boy whose parents say has been flagged as a travel risk since he was a toddler.

Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has said he is reviewing that case, as well as others that have sprung up in its wake.

"Our government pledged during the election to review issues relating to so-called "no fly" lists as part of a broader plan to repeal the problematic elements of the previous government's Bill C-51, and to introduce new legislation that strengthens accountability with respect to national security and better balances collective security with rights and freedoms," Goodale said in a statement. "That work is ongoing, and will include a public consultation process."

"Canadians expect their government to deliver on two vital imperatives — namely, keeping them safe while safeguarding their values and this country's fundamental character. That is our constant goal."


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