Amir Javid, a former gang member from the Lower Mainland, brought his wife and kids to the Portage Keremeos rehabilitation centre this past spring to give the youth a reality check on what gang life is really like, and why he decided to leave that life behind him.
The residents were mesmerised by the stories he told and how he explained that, unfortunately, gang life has become glamorised, but that it really is not what most people think it is. As a gang member, he saw many people having families and bringing up their children in the gang lifestyle, and he wanted something better for his family. Now, he goes around speaking to teenagers about his experiences and encouraging them to avoid that lifestyle.
The family spent the entire day at the centre and Amir sat with the boys’ community during lunch to speak with them one-on-one, while his wife spoke with the girls’ community. According to Portage staff members, this was the highest level of engagement they have ever seen by the residents, who were incredibly affected by the visit.