British Columbia

'I was so excited': Refugee shot by her husband meets Justin Trudeau

An Afghan refugee to Canada whose husband shot her in the face in a brutal act of domestic violence met with the prime minister Thursday.

Shakila Zareen met the prime minister at an event at Vancouver’s Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel

In a handout photo from the Prime Minister’s Office, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, meets with Shakila Zareen, a refugee from Afghanistan who survived a shooting attack by her husband. (Adam Scotti/Prime Minister’s Office)

An Afghan refugee to Canada whose husband shot her in the face when she was 17 met with the prime minister Thursday.

Shakila Zareen met Justin Trudeau at an event at Vancouver's Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel.

"I [could] not believe it. I was so excited," Zareen said. "He's very, very kind."

Zareen now lives in Vancouver after escaping her husband in 2012 and spending several years in India, where she had a series of surgeries.

She was originally expecting to settle in the United States as a refugee, but after U.S. President Donald Trump suspended that country's refugee program, her acceptance was overturned, and the UNHCR referred her file to Canada. She arrived in Vancouver on Jan. 30 of this year.

Speaking outside the hotel through a translator Thursday evening, she said it was her dream to meet Trudeau to thank him for helping her and other women around the world.

When she was 17, Zareen was forced into marriage to a much older man by her brother-in-law. She says the man beat and raped her and in 2012 shot her in the face. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

She says she hopes to one day be able to sit down with Trudeau and tell him her story. She also says she wants to discuss with him the importance of women's rights.

As Trudeau left the hotel for a fundraiser, Zareen stood outside in the cold Vancouver rain and excitedly waved goodbye to his motorcade.

Zareen said through a translator it was her dream to meet Trudeau. (Adam Scotti/Prime Minister’s Office)

With files from Briar Stewart

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