Last weekend, a 17-year-old was beaten and sustained severe head injuries at Stoney Creek Reserve.
This week, a 23-year-old Vancouver man was killed in a gang-related attack on a basketball court in Kamloops.
On Nak’azdli Reserve, this week, there were presentations taking place attempting to try and educate youth about gang violence and persuade them to take another path.
One of those presentations was by Amir Javid, a 28-year-old Iranian-Canadian. Javid came to Canada from war-torn Iran as a refugee via Pakistan, and was smuggled into the country with his mother.
Two of Javid’s brothers were caught and jailed in Malaysia while they were trying to escape Iran, and his father did not travel with them either, but had to come over later.
“All I knew was that it was an opportunity to find hope,” said Javid, to the audience of about 50 people in Kwah Hall.
After a war-torn Iran and a refugee camp in Pakistan, Canada seemed full of promise to Javid and his family.
However, things were to change quickly for the young man, struggling to find an identity in a foreign place.
Javid described how he had no one to identify with and struggled to find a community where he could feel like he belonged.
There was a void of identity, security and purpose for the teenage Javid.
He quickly discovered he could have friends if he had something to offer.
“If you have something people want they want be your friend,” said Javid. He detailed a gradual introduction to gang life through small steps. Starting with smoking, Javid sought out ways to be more like rapper Tupac, and at 15 he found ways to become accepted into gang crowds by drinking and breaking the law.
But the dream life came to a brutal and abrupt end when Javid was 24 years old. On October 19, 2008, friends of Javid’s were killed in what was called the ‘Surrey Six Massacre’.
For Javid, the death of his friends was the last straw. While difficult, he got out of gang life and cut his ties to the lifestyle which had killed so many of his comrades. Now, Javid tells his story across western Canada and soon, around the world (Javid will be travelling to Hong Kong to work with youth there), to try and help youth realize the negative side of the gang lifestyle.
“I want to tell my kids one day ‘Your Dad did something important once,’” said Javid.