Nightclub shooting victim former refugee ‘trying to do good’

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In a 2012 hip-hop video, Jamshaid Wahabi is in his element, rapping with other newcomers about finding their way in a new country after fleeing a war zone.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/11/2019 (1190 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

In a 2012 hip-hop video, Jamshaid Wahabi is in his element, rapping with other newcomers about finding their way in a new country after fleeing a war zone.

On Saturday, he became Winnipeg’s 38th homicide of the year, after the 23-year-old was shot to death at Citizen Nightclub on Bannatyne Avenue.

“I was shocked when I heard,” filmmaker Jim Agapito said of the young refugee from Afghanistan, who came to Canada with his single-parent mother.

Jamshaid Wahabi appears as an Afghan boy wearing an Italy t-shirt in this video starting at 18:43. 

 

Jamshaid Wahabi appears in this YouTube video wearing a bright blue hoodie at 1:58.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3amrAKEpwoI

Wahabi had thrived with the encouragement and mentoring received while they were making the video for Live from 95, said Agapito, a boxing coach who tried to recruit the scrappy young man for the ring. “He was good at fighting.

“It was hard as a newcomer coming to Canada and you don’t know anyone and you’re trying to survive. Sometimes, you get involved with the wrong people. He was trying to do good.”

After struggling in his teens, Wahabi was working in construction for the last three years, said Abdi Ahmed, director of Immigration Partnership Winnipeg. Ahmed had known Wahabi since 2008, when he was a youth worker at Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba.

“I provided mentorship to Jamshaid for a long time,” he said, noting Wahabi was “a good kid… (who) wanted to help his younger brother and (two) sisters.

“His mother looked up to him a lot, and we talked many times,” said Ahmed, who shared with the Free Press one of the concerned but encouraging messages he’d sent to Wahabi before the young man turned himself around.

Still from a documentary on the making of Life from 95, a 2012 hip-hop video featuring Jamshaid Wahabi rapping with other newcomer kids about finding their way in a new country after fleeing a war zone. On Saturday, November 2, 2019, he became Winnipeg's 38th homicide of the year. The 23-year-old was shot to death at Citizen nightclub on Bannatyne Avenue in the Exchange District. (Vimeo)

“He went through the trauma of the conflict in Afghanistan, there were not many supports for such kids, his school did not understand him,” Ahmed said from Indonesia, where he is attending a conference. “They were not prepared for kids with interrupted schooling like Jamshaid, which led to his disillusionment with the system, just like the many other kids like him.”

Agapito and Ervin Chartand, an ex-gang member, made the hip-hop video Live from 95 — featuring Wahabi and other youth from IRCOM. They also made a documentary about its creation nine years ago. In it, Chartrand said he could relate to then-16-year-old Wahabi.

“Jamshaid’s kind of on the brink of going in the wrong direction,” Chartrand says in the documentary. “I know he doesn’t have a father and I think that plays a big role… He has a lot of potential. Hopefully, he pulls himself out of it.”

“He went through the trauma of the conflict in Afghanistan, there were not many supports for such kids, his school did not understand him.” – Abdi Ahmed, director of Immigration Partnership Winnipeg

Agapito recalled Tuesday how Wahabi opened up at the time, finding his voice in his second language.

“The guy was put out of his comfort zone,” he said. “He participated, and he liked the idea that people care about him and will push him.”

While Chartrand and Agapito’s project was well-received, it was the time they spent with the young subjects after the cameras were turned off that mattered most.

“We knew the importance of staying with those kids, and being someone who’s a constant — a person they could depend on,” Agapito said. One of the youth participants, for example, went on to study journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto, he said.

“We ended up staying for 11 months to a year hanging out, even if we didn’t do anything (that day), you could see it had an impact.”

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

In a 2012 hip-hop video, Jamshaid Wahabi raps with other newcomer kids about finding their way in a new country after fleeing a war zone. (YouTube)
Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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