A photograph of a three-year-old boy named Alan Kurdi is appearing on the front pages of newspapers around the world today (September 3).
The boy's body washed ashore on a beach in Turkey Wednesday. He was identified by Turkish press shortly after and his origins were traced to the Syrian town of Kobane.
The photograph has since come to symbolize the plight of hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled violence in the Middle East and made or died attempting dangerous trips by sea to Europe. The boy and his family were reportedly at sea on their way to the Greek island of Kos when their boat sank.
According to the Ottawa Citizen, they had attempted to get to Canada with the help of an aunt who lives in the Vancouver suburb of Coquitlam.
Former Straight contributor Terry Glavin reported the family had previously filed a sponsored-refugee application. But the process was complicated by bureaucratic hurdles at the United Nations and in Turkey. Their attempt was formally denied by Canadian authorities in June. (Update: According to CBC News, the Government of Canada claims it had not received a formal application from the Kurdi family but did reject an application filed on behalf of Alan's uncle, Mohammed.)
“I was trying to sponsor them, and I have my friends and my neighbours who helped me with the bank deposits, but we couldn’t get them out, and that is why they went in the boat," the Vancouver woman named Tima Kurdi told the Citizen. "I was even paying rent for them in Turkey, but it is horrible the way they treat Syrians there."
Fin Donnelly, NDP MP New Westminster—Coquitlam, reportedly "hand delivered" the family's application to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander. Donnelly told the Citizen that Alexander said he would look into it.
The young boy's five-year-old brother, Ghalib, and mother, Rehan, also died trying to make the journey to Europe. Their father, Abdullah, survived. He has said he now wishes to take his family home for burial in Kobane.
Update (September 3, 2015): Trudeau and Mulcair react to news dead Syrian boy was trying to get to Canada with help of family in Vancouver