Our Kids by Charles Foran
Things That Happen to Omar Khadr Before He Turns Eighteen
1 He is born in Toronto.
2 He is taught to speak English, Arabic, Pashto, and Dari. Also some French.
3 His father, a terrorist, takes him, his mother, and his siblings to Pakistan and then Afghanistan, to plot and make jihad. Omar learns to ire rocket-propelled grenades and assault riles. Also to build and plant IEDs (improvised explosive devices).
4 He turns fifteen on 18 September 2001 in Afghanistan.
5 His father assigns him to work as a translator for the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Does undercover reconnaissance among American troops.
6 He finds himself pinned down inside a mud compound. Refuses to leave with women and children, or to surrender. US war planes bomb the site, and Delta Force commanders enter. Omar, hiding behind a wall, tosses a grenade at a soldier (“like in the movies,” he later admits). He is shot twice in the back.
7 The US soldier, Sgt Speer, dies ten days later. Omar survives multiple surgeries, including on his right eye, hit by shrapnel. He loses sight in it.
Things That Happen to Anna Foran Before She Turns Eighteen
1 She is born in Montreal.
2 She is taught to speak English, French, and later some Mandarin.
3 Her parents, a writer and a teacher, relocate her and her younger sister, Claire, to Peterborough, Ontario, to be near their Canadian grandparents. Girls watch The Lion King obsessively during move into new house. Meet neighbouring girls, the Bartleys, on first day. Recreate scenes involving Simba and Mufasa in backyard fort, singing “Circle of Life.” No one wants to play the evil lion Scar.
4 Participates in family written and performed plays inside barn on grandparents’ farm. A friend videos one show, titled “The Play Is the Thing.”
5 Parents decide to relocate again to Hong Kong for three years. Anna and Claire are enrolled in Canadian International School, where they learn to say “Give me a break!” in Cantonese and sing “Frere Jacques,” now about a tiger, in Mandarin. Christmases and vacations in Bali, China, Malaysia, and Thailand.
6 On TV in apartment on Hong Kong island, Anna watches Twin Towers fall. “Today, the world changed,” her father says (pompously). He still reads her a chapter of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban before bed that night, despite his misgivings about J.K. Rowling’s prose.
7 Back in Canada, she takes piano lessons on piano in living room. Makes her high-school basketball team and helps organize movie-themed school dances, Grease being especially popular.
- Excerpted from Omar Khadr, Oh Canada, edited by Janice Williamson
Meet Janice Williamson,
editor of Omar Khadr, Oh Canada
Shadows of Afghanistan panel
LitFest - Edmonton’s Nonfiction Festival
Saturday, October 20, 2012 - 19:00