Witness to mosque shooting wants Immigration Quebec to know he and son are victims, too
Father of 6 who saw Jan. 29 attack seeking permanent residency for brother who's helping him deal with trauma
A witness to the fatal mass shooting at the Quebec mosque last winter is asking Quebec immigration authorities to extend the same privileges to him as they're offering to the families of the men who were killed or injured.
Radio-Canada has learned the province is speeding up immigration requests for extended families of the five men who were shot and for the six women who were widowed in the mosque attack on Jan. 29, 2017.
Ahmed Ech-Chahedy and his nine-year-old son Ibrahim are listed on the charge sheet as two of 35 victims of attempted murder by alleged shooter Alexandre Bissonnette.
"My son is traumatized," said Ech-Chahedy, a taekwondo instructor in Quebec City.
"Since my brother arrived, he is my psychologist. We talk a lot. We go to the mosque together with the children. He babysits them," Ech-Achedy told Radio-Canada. "This has helped a lot."
Ahmed Ech-Achedy and his wife Cathie Marcotte have six children, and a seventh is due in March.
He says apart from his immediate family, his brother, Abdallah Ech-Chahedy, is his only relative.
Abdallah arrived last March with his wife and two children. Since then, Ahmed has found them lodging and he's found Abdallah a job.
Radio-Canada obtained a letter from Immigration Quebec which states "following the tragic events of Jan. 29, the ministry has decided to put in place special measures for families affected by the shooting."
The Immigration Ministry has received 10 requests for one or several relatives of the mosque shooting's victims to come to Quebec. It has approved the first step to immigration for 24 people.
Father, son recall night of shooting
Ahmed Ech-Chahedy was just inside of two arches opening onto the main prayer room at the mosque with his son and two other children when the shooting started last Jan. 29.
When he realized what was happening, he told the boys to leave, but they wouldn't budge.
"I held his hand," said Ibrahim, tears streaming down his face, "and after a moment, he decided to listen to me."
"That will stay with me forever. I'll never forget that."
He said the justice system considers him and his son victims of attempted murder, and Quebec's Compensation for Victims of Crime has sent him a cheque. But Quebec's Immigration Ministry does not recognize him as a victim.
"It's discrimination," said Ahmed.
"Me, my son, my family we have suffered a lot. Even lately, he gets up in the middle of the night and I have to wake up, or I don't sleep. We are exhausted. I just need my brother."
With files from Radio-Canada's Cathy Senay