Toronto

Deaths of Toronto Somalis in Alberta ignored: families

Somali-Canadian families in Toronto say they will not give up until police and government officials in Alberta take steps to solve the violent deaths of 23 young men from their community that have occurred since 2005.

At least 23 young men killed in oil patch drug wars since 2005

Somali-Canadian families in Toronto say they will not give up until police and government officials in Alberta take steps to solve the violent deaths of 23 young men from their community that have occurred since 2005.

The men from Toronto's Somali community all died in Alberta after moving west for jobs in the lucrative oil and gas industry.

The latest victim, Abdinasir Ali, 19, was found dead in an apartment in Fort McMurray, Alta., on April 21, an apparent victim of an escalating turf war among gangs involved in illegal drugs.

"Our heart is [broken] down," said Ali's father, Abdulkadir Tarambi, who recently returned to Toronto from Alberta after burying his son.

Ali went out west to visit relatives, got a job at Tim Hortons and was supposed to come back to Toronto to go to university.

Tarambi was shocked after the funeral when he learned online that his son had been facing drug charges.

"The police, they didn't tell me," he said.

Ahmed Hussen, president of the Canadian Somali Congress, says many of the victims' families don't know what their sons get involved with in Alberta.

"A lot of times, the families don't know, because the families are here [in Toronto], and the young men are in Alberta," said Hussen.

Families want police to step-up investigation

Hussen said Somali-Canadian families in Toronto are very upset with the way the deaths are being handled in Alberta.

"They're Canadian citizens, but their deaths and their issues don't seem to be taken very seriously," he said.

Soon, people in Toronto will be able to sign a petition currently circulating in Alberta.

It demands that all levels of government put resources into solving the cases.

Mohamed Gilao has been helping Somali families in Toronto cope with the deaths of their sons.

"A lot of people are asking why they don't intervene," said Gilao. "These are Canadian kids, right?

CBC contacted officials with the Edmonton police but was told their chief was too busy to talk about the many unsolved murders.

Ali's father in Toronto has only one thought on his mind.

"I want to know who kill my son," he said.

Tarambi said he wants action before another young man from his community in Toronto ends up dead in Alberta.      

Corrections

  • About 23 young Somali-Canadian men have been slain in Alberta in the past five years, not 30 as previously reported.
    May 12, 2010 2:15 PM ET

With files from CBC's Jasmin Seputis

now