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The Shakeout Podcast: A Rwandan Refugee Runs for His Life

How a 16 year old runner from Rwanda came to Canada and had to decide between staying alone in a foreign country or returning home to face violence.

Yves Sikubwabo

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Running saved his life.  In 2010, when Yves Sikubwabo was just 16 years old, he boarded a plane from Rwanda to Moncton, NB to race in the 1500m. He was the only representative of his nation for the World Junior Championships in Athletics, and in an effort to save costs, he travelled without a coach or a guardian. He was alone and had only a backpack and $100 of spending money in his pocket. 


Instagram: Yves Sikubwabo

Days before the biggest race of his life, Sikubwabo makes a routine call to his aunt who gives him the most shocking and unexpected news: he finds out who actually killed his parents when he was just an infant and now his life is in danger. 

He must choose between staying in this foreign country, with no family, friends, or money, or to return home and face violence. 

On this week’s episode of The Shakeout, we tell the story of Yves Sikubwabo, of how he ended up in Canada as a teenager and what happened after that harrowing phone call home. 

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We would like to thank the Ontario Media Development Corporation for their contributions to this podcast.