A former American soldier living in Winnipeg said he's struggling to provide for his family, and he's asking for your help.

Joshua Key served in Iraq for seven months in 2003 and is one of an estimated 200 war resisters in Canada.

He said during his eight months of service overseas, he saw innocent people being shot and killed — including small children.

Key recalled a period of time when his unit was guarding a children’s hospital and would interact with the same young Afghan girl every day.


Joshua Key, seen here as part of his U.S. military unit before he deserted, is holding a fundraiser Monday evening to help support his family. ((CBC file))

“We would always give her our food and water – I know I always did,” he said.

Key went on to describe the moment when he witnessed that same little girl get shot in the head while crossing the street toward the hospital.

He disagreed with the mission and refused to go back, but was told by his supervisors that if he didn’t, he'd be sent to jail.

Key fled to Canada instead and has been here for nine years living with his wife and three children.

"The only thing I ask the Canadian government is to let me stay here, and raise my family and live in peace," he said.

Key applied for refugee status in the past but was denied — as was his appeal. 

He said he's living in limbo because he can be deported at any time.

 "You don't know what will happen tomorrow, I could get rejection tomorrow for my spousal sponsorship case and then I've got three days to report to the border."

He applied four years ago to stay in the country under spousal sponsorship because his wife is Canadian, but said not being able to work or have access to health care has been extremely difficult for his family.

"The no work, the no health care, I mean, it's been one hell of a life — I can say that at least," said Key. "It's very much a struggle, it's a struggle every day."

As difficult as it's been for Key, immigration lawyer David Davis said it could still take anywhere from two to four years for the application to be processed.

“They want to assess the credibility of the relationship,” said Davis. “Before they give it that approval stamp, which would then entitle him to a work permit, they are taking a lot of time to review documents.”

Key is having a fundraiser dinner Monday night at 7 p.m. in St. Matthew`s Church to raise money for his family.