Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's boy sits with hero Justin Trudeau during show at Arts and Culture Centre

A Newfoundland boy who reached out to Justin Trudeau earlier this year finally got to rub shoulders with him this week in St. John's.

Abdallah Shahwan wrote prime minister in April, asking him to visit St. John's mosque

Abdallah Shahwan, 12, poses with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau following the Come From Away forum in St. John's Monday night. (Submitted by Abdallah Shahwan)

A Newfoundland boy who reached out to Justin Trudeau earlier this year finally rubbed shoulders with him this week when he sat next to the Canadian prime minister at an event in St. John's.

Abdallah Shahwan is a 12-year-old Grade 8 student at Leary's Brook Junior High in St. John's.

He was in the news in April when he wrote the prime minister, inviting him to visit his mosque on Logy Bay Road following attacks on a Quebec City mosque in January.

Previously, on Twitter, Trudeau had also wished Abdallah and his friend a happy Eid.

When Trudeau and his cabinet came to St. John's on Sept. 11, Abdallah managed to get tickets to the Come From Away forum the politicians were attending at the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre.

Abdallah Shahwan, a Grade 8 student at Leary's Brook Junior High, calls Justin Trudeau his hero and says his friends at school are jealous of the fact that he got to spend a couple hours with the prime minister. (Jo-Ann Dooley)

However, when he arrived there was a problem with his tickets.

A lucky fluke

Trudeau's assistant told Abdallah they would try to figure something out, and next thing he knew he was sitting in a red theatre seat — right next to the Canadian prime minister.

"It was basically just a fluke. People were wondering how a little kid like me got a seat like that," Abdallah told the St. John's Morning Show on Friday.

"It was really fun and lucky for me to get that seat because a bunch of people were trying to get seats closer but they couldn't."

Abdallah Shahwan sent a handwritten letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in April, inviting him to visit his mosque in St. John's. This week when he met Abdallah, Trudeau acknowledged that he had received the letter.

Abdallah said being in the glare of the lights and cameras pointed at Trudeau, he didn't get to talk to him a whole lot. But the prime minister did acknowledge that he got Shahwan's letter and thanked him for it.

"We basically talked about the letter and everything that was going on and what encouraged me to write it," he said. "It made me feel happy that my hero Justin Trudeau read my letter."

After sharing some photos of his evening with Trudeau on social media, Abdallah said his friends have had a lot to say about the experience.

"Everyone was like, 'Oh my god, you met Justin Trudeau! That's super cool,'" he said. "I'll never forget this moment."

With files from St. John's Morning Show

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