Omar Khadr has enrolled in the four-year nursing program at Red Deer College.
Red Deer College president Joel Ward confirmed the college accepted Khadr into its nursing program. Students return to school Sept. 6.
Khadr is an ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee who was captured by American soldiers in 2002 at the age of 15. Khadr pleaded guilty to an assault in Afghanistan in which a U.S. special forces soldier was killed, but he later said the only reason he pleaded guilty was to get out of American detention. He was back in Canada in 2010 and served the rest of his eight-year sentence. The Canadian government has apologized to Khadr for the torture he has suffered while in detention. It recently settled a lawsuit filed by Khadr for $10.5 million.
Ward said the college accepts about 8,000 students annually and it values inclusiveness and diversity.
“We don’t make judgments on history or people,” said Ward. “We are about students who come here and hope they have an opportunity to succeed in their program of studies and they find their next path and next chapter in life.”
Ward said the college’s admission process is the same for all students, and Khadr met all the academic requirements.
“It’s competitive, and top students do very well, so I’m guaranteed he met all the qualifications easily and (he was) probably near the top, because it’s hard to get into that program,” said Ward.
Students who apply to the college are ranked based on a number of categories.
“It’s based on previous academic performance and other things, and that’s how you get accepted in the program, so I wouldn’t have known actually that he applied until after he had been accepted.”
When asked to comment about people’s views on Khadr attending the college, Ward said it was not his place to do so.
People took to the Red Deer Advocate Facebook page as soon as the news broke that Khadr plans to attend Red Deer College in the fall.
“I have no issues with it. At least he wants to learn and contribute to society. Everyone is always complaining about people who don’t contribute,” read one posting.
“He’s a murderer and he’s a thief. He stole that money from the Canadian taxpayers,” said another Facebook posting.