The mother of a young boy who has been flagged as a travel risk since he was a toddler says she is "really looking forward" to travelling with ease as a family, after the Canadian government announced it has created an office to assist passengers mistakenly barred from flights.
The issue came to light last December, when six-year-old Syed Adam Ahmed was travelling with his father, Sulemaan, to the Winter Classic in Boston. Sulemaan said an Air Canada agent showed them that the boy had been flagged on the Deemed High Profile list, Canada's no-fly list.
He apparently shared a name with someone on the list.
The boy's parents said at the time that they had been having trouble travelling with their son for years.
On Friday, Sulemaan Ahmed and Khadija Cajee said they were "extremely pleased" with the federal government's announcement.
"I imagine that it would end the anxiety," Cajee told CBC News. "I imagine that I could possibly check in online at home and go straight to security at the airport without any additional delays with my three children. I'm really looking forward to that."
The new office will work with the U.S. government in a bilateral process called the Canada-U.S. Redress Working Group.
The government will establish the Passenger Protect Inquiries Office, which would deal with name mix-ups and other "difficulties related to aviation security lists."
"Eliminating false positives in airport security screening is complex, but we are committed to a long-term solution through a domestic redress system," said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a civil liberties and advocacy group, said Friday it welcomed the government's announcement, which "is the result of the tireless efforts of the families" and other groups who have worked to raise awareness about the problem.
"Wasting resources on innocent Canadians does not make anyone feel safer nor does it actually improve public safety," NCCM executive director Ihsaan Gardee said in a statement.
'Extremely relieved and pleased'
Cajee said she has already gone online to have her son included in the new redress working group process. She and her husband spoke to Goodale earlier in the day, and were "extremely relieved and very pleased" at the government's quick response to concerns from them and from other parents.
"We had no luck under the previous government," Cajee said. "And six months, it's unheard of really and we are beyond pleased with the speed and efficiency with which they responded."
However, the government did say Friday that because of work needed on data and regulatory systems, it still could be 18 months until the name mix-ups end.
The false name matches occur when a passenger has the same name as one on lists related to either Canada's Secure Air Travel Act or the United States' No-Fly List. The passenger who is not meant to be on one of those lists but whose name appears in error or closely matches one on the list can apply for a unique identification number that would clear them to fly.
This number would be presented at the time of a ticket purchase to clear their name in advance and prevent delays at airports, according to the government.
Sulemaan and Cajee will be travelling with their children within the next month, and said Friday they will still have some trepidation as they head to the airport.
"I think it actually won't be real until the next time we travel and we don't have any issues," Cajee said.