As It Happens

Why this 4-year-old girl's mom is demanding Canada make changes to its no-fly list

Amber Cammish was among the group of frustrated parents of children affected by Canada's no-fly list who went to Parliament Hill on Monday to demand policy change.
Four-year-old Alia Mohamed has to bring extra documentation to board an airplane in Canada. (Amber Cammish)

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Amber Cammish was among the group of frustrated parents of children affected by Canada's no-fly list who went to Parliament Hill on Monday to demand policy change.

The Vancouver Island woman's four-year-old daughter Alia Mohammed is one of dozens of children who have been delayed or prevented from boarding flights because their names are believed to be similar to those on the watchlist.

The families are calling for a redress system to be included in the 2018 federal budget that will allow them to legally distinguish their children from genuine security threats — and they have the support of 177 MPs, including 17 cabinet ministers.

Cammish told As It Happens host Carol Off how the no-fly list has affected her family and what she and other parents want from the federal government. Here is part of that conversation.

When did your daughter Alia ... first encounter issues while travelling?

We have never been able to do online check-ins since she's been born. We've never been able to do the kiosk at the airport since she's been born.

The first time that it actually became known to us that this issue was ... because of the no-fly list was on Jan. 1 of this year when we were in Terrace, B.C., and they had stopped us and asked us for additional documentation in order to allow her onto the airplane.

These children and youth have trouble flying because their names are likely similar to people on the no-fly list. From top left to right: Yusuf Ahmed, 19, Saif-Ullah Khan, 17, Aadam Ahmed 18, Adam Ahmed, 19, David Matthews, 6, Adam Ahmed, 8, and Alia Mohamed, 4. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

And what did you learn? What did you finally discover was the reasons why your daughter was having these problems?

The biggest problem is they will never let us know officially if our children are on the list. We have to assume based on all of the information and all of the previous circumstances that have happened to other children and other Canadians.

How do you propose getting this dealt with? What kind of redress system are you seeking?

We want a redress system similar to what is in the U.S. The U.S. has had theirs in place for almost a decade. 

Canadians demand a redress system for no-fly list

6 years ago
Duration 0:51
Yusuf Ahmed, who has been on Canada's no fly list as long as he can remember, says he is still frightened that he could be tortured by a foreign government based on flawed information if he travelled overseas.

Or a redress number, which everybody in Canada who is questioned about this can apply for, is a number that goes on your international or your domestic travel ticket before you get to the airport. 

That is a government number that is provided to you, which means that you can then go freely throughout all of the security without any worries that they are going to ask you for secondary screening. You've been officially screened by the highest level of government and given clearance to go ahead.

I understand that the Public Safety Minister [Ralph Goodale] proposed that there be a system like this set up like this just last year and then that was killed by Finance Minister [Bill] Morneau's department. Why was that? What's the problem?

Public Safety says it's a funding issue and that it didn't make the cut for 2017. [Finance] is saying that they're waiting for more information from Public Safety to continue.

Amber Cammish, top, worries about future travel with her children because of the added security her daughter has to go through. (Amber Cammish)

Your daughter's four-years-old, so she probably doesn't know what's going on, but I understand that with some of the older kids into their teens they don't want to travel with their parents, they don't want to go anywhere. 

The worst part is they're going to become 18 or 19 years old and they are going travel on their own. They're still going to be pulled aside and asked for additional screening.

At this point in time, there's nothing that any of us mothers can do to help the situation. This needs to be fixed before more of these children get to that age because it will hinder their ability to work and travel within their own country and abroad.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. For more, listen to our interview with Amber Cammish.