British Columbia

Refugee inspires SFU Surrey forum with success story

About 150 people turned out to community forum on Syrian refugees at Fleetwood Park Secondary School in Surrey Wednesday night.

Mateen Aminie hopes to inspire Syrian refugees by sharing his experience

Many people who attended the forum wanted to find out what they can do to help Syrian refugees. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

About 150 people turned out to community forum on Syrian refugees at Fleetwood Park Secondary School in Surrey Wednesday night.

Mateen Aminie stood in front of them and told them about how a vicious assault changed his life.

Aminie came to Canada from Afghanistan as a refugee when he was a young teen.

He must have looked like an easy target to a group of thugs in Surrey one night.

It was 2011 and Aminie was taking a bus home from work.

"I was 14 years old and it was late at night and the next thing I know, I got assaulted by three people," he told the crowd.

"I was brutally beaten up so badly that I'm lucky to be alive. I was unconscious for the night. I had short term memory loss."

Mateen Aminie wants to be an RCMP officer. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Life Changing Incident

What Aminie remembers most about the incident isn't the pain, fear or anger that he felt.

It was the response from police, who he described as kind and patient, and who eventually caught his assailants.

"Living in the Middle East, people fear the police," he said.

"I had the same perspective when I came here but when I came in contact with police, it completely changed my mind."

Aminie, now 19, wants to be a police officer.

Surrey RCMP Chief Supt. Bill Fordy addresses the forum. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

"I don't know who the officers were that night, but I'd like to find them and tell them that story," said Surrey RCMP Chief Supt. Bill Fordy.

"It would be nice to let them know the positive influence they had on that young man."

Helping Others

Aminie wants his success story to encourage others to help the hundreds of newcomers coming to Metro Vancouver.

The forum also gave service providers an opportunity to explain how volunteers and donors can help.

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