Saskatchewan

'My heart just crashed,' Saskatoon friend remembers killed hostage John Ridsdel

Saskatoon's Don Kossick remembers he "really liked" John Ridsdel when the future friends first met in the 1970s. Ridsdel was killed by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in the Philippines.

Don Kossick first became friends with Ridsdel in the 1970s at CBC News in Regina

John Ridsdel was killed after being held hostage by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in the Philippines. (@JBR10000/Twitter)

Don Kossick remembers he "really liked" John Ridsdel when the future friends first met in the 1970s while Ridsdel was a young CBC producer-reporter out of Regina, Sask.

"He was really a warm, generous person," Kossick said in Saskatoon, Sask. "When I saw his name come up with that first kidnap he was a part of, I thought, 'My God. What a situation he's caught up in.' "

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed the killing of Ridsdel, who was being held hostage by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in the Philippines. Ridsdel grew up in Yorkton, Sask.

"I was just totally shocked," Kossick said.

"I thought there was a chance, albeit slim, that interventions could have worked. So when I heard that they went ahead and beheaded John ... my heart just crashed. I couldn't believe it."

There has got to be ways of saying, 'We can't have our Canadian citizens be killed this way.' - Don Kossick

Last week, Kossick told CBC News he had started a letter writing campaign to the prime minister and other government officials asking for them to step in.

"I was still hopeful because a lot of Canadians did get in touch with government ministers, such as (Public Safety) Minister Ralph Goodale, (Minister of Foreign Affairs) Stéphane Dion, and Prime Minister Trudeau," Kossick said. "The response back was that they were doing whatever possible to work on it. So, you know, all you could feel was hope that they could have pulled it off, but it didn't work."

Concern for the remaining hostages

Don Kossick said he was friends with John Ridsdel, calling him a "warm, generous person." (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

Ridsdel, a 68-year-old former Calgarian, was one of four hostages, including a fellow Canadian, Robert Hall, held by the Abu Sayyaf militants. There is no word on the fate of the remaining hostages.

"I would just hope that Canadians can keep the pressure on," Kossick said. "We can't see this happening one more time."

Kossick said he doesn't know how the Canadian government is acting on this situation, but he believes the country has a "moral obligation" to do everything possible to help the hostages.

"There has got to be ways of saying, 'We can't have our Canadian citizens be killed this way.' And as Trudeau says, Prime Minister Trudeau, it was outright murder. And that should not happen to Canadian citizens, who through no fault of their own, ended up in that precarious situation."

While his friend Ridsdel has already been tragically killed, Kossick said he will continue writing and encouraging others to stay mobilized by pressuring the government.

"I think the Canadian government should think about our relationships," he said. "Why are our citizens being killed in the Philippines?"

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