Family of irked boy at N.B. town hall to name baby after Trudeau

Family explains irked boy photo at N.B. town hall

FREDERICTON — A photo of a boy looking exasperated while sitting behind the prime minister has been making the rounds on social media, even giving Justin Trudeau a laugh, but the boy’s family wants to set the record straight about the circumstances. 

Abdel Kader Al Shaikh was photographed covering his hands over his eyes with his head tilted towards the ceiling as he sat in the front row of Trudeau’s town hall in Fredericton last week.

The Canadian Press photo struck a chord with social media users, with some interpreting the boy’s expression as frustration with the prime minister.

Trudeau had a more light-hearted take on the scene, joking that as a former teacher, he’s used to speaking in front of an audience of squirming children.

“I haven’t seen faces like these kids’ since I taught math class,” Trudeau wrote in a tweet that generated thousands of likes. “Thanks New Brunswick!”

While Trudeau’s former students may have grimaced in math class, 10-year-old Abdel Kader was eager to hear what the prime minister had to say last Tuesday, his father said in an interview aided by an interpreter.  

Hassan Al Shaikh said he and his wife, Radia, along with four of their seven children waited for two hours to see Trudeau, even letting some of the kids skip school so they could see their “hero” in person. The family holds Trudeau in the highest esteem, Hassan Al Shaikh said, as the “only leader in the world” who welcomed Syrian refugees with open arms.

“(I’m) so grateful for all of the Canadian people … who received (our family) with amazing hospitality,” he said. “While other countries closed their borders … Canada was the only country that opened the doors and opened the hearts for the Syrians.”

Abdel Kader watched intently as Trudeau took questions from the audience, but he kept being distracted by his two-year-old brother, Omar, who cried and made noise while the prime minister was speaking, according to the boys’ father.

“Abdel Kader tried to make his brother be quiet. He was saying to him, ‘Please listen, listen, listen,” Hassan Al Shaikh said. “When he gave up, he put his hands on his head and said, ‘Oh my god, I am here listen!”

Hassan Al Shaikh said that he and Radia were horrified to learn that a photo of the sibling squabble had somehow made its way to the prime minister. The parents feared their son had offended Trudeau and that his gesture could even invite punishment for the whole family, based on their “bad memory” of living under the Syrian government.

Eventually, it was made clear that the prime minister was amused by the image, and Hassan Al Shaikh said he was heartened by Trudeau’s “democratic reaction.”

The Al Shaikhs just passed their one-year anniversary in New Brunswick, and they’re expecting an addition to their brood any day now.

At their children’s request, they plan to name the boy “Justin Trudeau Al Shaikh.”

Radia Al Shaikh said she hopes Trudeau will give them his blessing to welcome the baby into the family’s new home with a fittingly Canadian name.

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Big Reds a big hit at Big White

More than 600 people turned out on the weekend for annual red wine festival

RCMP hunt for suspect in West Kelowna bank robbery

Suspect used a note and fled bank Saturday with an undisclosed amount of cash

Community Leader Awards: Shelley Pacholok

The Kelowna Capital News honours those who give back in the community

International Arts Festival returns to Kelowna

Living Things is a month-long festival with live performances by artists from around the world

Legion bell prank hits sour note

Anger erupts after Summerland Legion member removes bell from Peachland Legion

Steve Miller and Peter Frampton headed to Kelowna

Concert announced for Kelowna April 18

Firefighters protect seaside California towns as blaze rages

A flare-up on the western edge of Southern California’s largest and most destructive wildfire sent residents fleeing Sunday

Putin declares victory on visit to air base in Syria

Declaring a victory in Syria, Putin on Monday visited a Russian military air base in the country and announced a partial pullout of Russian forces from the Mideast nation.

SAR search for missing skier at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Joseph Stelcasky was reported missing Sunday afternoon

Pipe bomb explodes in NYC subway

Pipe bomb strapped to man explodes in NYC subway, injuring 4

Toronto FC to hold victory parade following MLS Cup championship

Toronto FC to hold downtown victory parade following MLS Cup championship

Canada’s only commercial spaceport hopes to launch 12 rockets per year

Nova Scotia’s rocket launch site hopes to eventually host 12 launches per year

‘Big Little Lies’ lead Golden Globes

The nominees were announced from Beverly Hills after still-burning fires ravaged Southern California for the past week.

Acclaimed rockers Shinedown to perform in Penticton

Shinedown kick off their Canadian tour in Penticton at the South Okanagan Events Centre

Most Read