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Polarizing Toronto activist deported to Nigeria

Kemi Omololu-Olunloyo has long maintained an active presence on social media, where she refers to herself alternately as Ms. Kemi or Snitchlady – a term she chose to counter the “no snitching” culture she says is pervasive in many high-crime areas.

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

Self-described victims-rights advocate Kemi Omololu-Olunloyo was deported to Nigeria last week, after a lengthy battle with immigration officials over her status in Canada.

"I was deported and it was a shame on the immigration system," she wrote in an online message to The Globe and Mail on Monday.

Outspoken and often controversial, Ms. Omololu-Olunloyo was a polarizing figure in many of the Toronto communities in which she worked. Some bereaved family members praised her efforts to bring attention to a loved one's death, while others viewed her as a self-promoter, thrusting herself into the spotlight to speak on their behalf.

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She has long maintained an active presence on social media, where she refers to herself alternately as Ms. Kemi or Snitchlady – a term she chose to counter the "no snitching" culture she says is pervasive in many high-crime areas. And she has worked with Toronto police through the TAVIS anti-violence program and Crime Stoppers.

"She could reach an audience that myself as a police officer and us as a police service were having challenges to reach,"said Constable Scott Mills, who works in social media for Toronto police. "[But] she definitely made a lot of noise, which at times caused some stress."

Ms. Omololu-Olunloyo came to Toronto five years ago, and began working on anti-violence campaigns in the city in 2007. She has also lived in the United States.

In 2009, a Toronto Star report revealed that she was wanted in the state of Georgia for jumping bail and violating probation. When Constable Mills learned of Ms. Omololu-Olunloyo's legal troubles, he reported the news to officials in Canada and Georgia. "I left it in their hands," he said.

Constable Mills said Ms. Omololu-Olunloyo wrote a message on Facebook on Saturday, telling friends that she was in Lagos and thanking those who supported her work in Toronto.

She said she planned to get involved in Nigeria's music industry and called on the families of victims of violence in Toronto to remain strong, according to a text the police officer provided.

"My work is done in Canada, now to move on," she wrote.

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Constable Mills said he remains deeply ambivalent about the role Ms. Omololu-Olunloyo has played in addressing violence in the city.

"Sometimes, as a cop, in order to keep the streets safe, you have to dance with the wolves," he said. "I don't want to call Kemi a wolf, because I think she has a good heart. I just think, on more than one occasion, she hurt the cause more than she helped it.

"But at the same time, not only in Toronto but in other jurisdictions, we have solved some major incidents because of her work."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Kim Mackrael has been a reporter for The Globe and Mail since 2011. She joined the Ottawa bureau Sept. 2012. More

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