Victoria, B.C., activist Kevin Neish will step back onto Canadian soil Saturday evening after being arrested aboard a Gaza-bound aid flotilla earlier this week.

At least nine people were killed and dozens more wounded after Israeli commandos raided six ships carrying 10,000 tons of aid and some 700 activists early Monday morning.

The ships were ordered to stop their journey into Gaza, which has been under an Israeli blockade for three years. They were then boarded about 130 kilometres from the coast in international waters and their occupants arrested – including three Canadian citizens.

Neish, 53, is scheduled to arrive at Victoria airport between 8 p.m. and midnight on Saturday, and will make a short statement about his ordeal.

Friends and family of Neish describe the marine engineer as a "role model" who had travelled on many international humanitarian missions in the past. He was tasked with protecting a team of news reporters travelling with the flotilla.

The fate of the two other Canadians arrested onboard remains a mystery.

Mark Regev, a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the flotilla had been warned in advance that the ships would not be allowed to enter Gaza from the sea.

Israel has let five aid deliveries go through the blockade on previous occasions, but has blocked all such attempts since January of last year.

Mass protests across Canada

The raid sparked considerable outrage from groups across Canada, which organized demonstrations from Halifax to Vancouver over the weekend.

In Ottawa, protesters rallied to denounce the blockade against Gaza and to demand the federal government advocate for human rights in the Palestinian territories.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement following the raid. It said that Canada "regrets" the deaths and that Ottawa was seeking more details "to shed light on what exactly happened."

The Egyptian and Israeli navies have blocked almost all supplies to Gaza since Hamas was voted into power in 2007. Hamas, an Islamic militant group, is considered a terrorist group by several Western countries, including Canada and the U.S.

With files from The Canadian Press