As the Vancouver man targeted in a racist attack last year plans to educate others about hate, Global News has obtained chilling surveillance video of the incident.
Survivor Willy Kabayabaya said he is still haunted by the assault.
“It’s not really easy for me to sleep in the night,” Kabayabaya told Global News in an interview. “Sometimes the knife came into my mind and I wake up like at 1 a.m., 2 a.m.”
The Vancouver father of three was waiting outside a building near Victory Square and talking on his phone on May 12, 2022 when a stranger approached him and began hurling racial slurs and threats, before pulling out a knife.
“I was like upset.”
As he thought of his family, Kabayabaya said he managed to grab the knife from his assailant and thwart the attack.
He credits his upbringing in Burundi, East Africa for helping him to save his own life.
“When you grow up in a small village, your family, dad and the grandpa — they teach you how to be strong and how to stand for your rights every time,” Kabayabaya said.
“In my mind, I say if like I died, who’s going to support my family?”
Kabayabaya said his wife and children are still struggling to comprehend the hate crime.
“My youngest daughter… she say, ‘Daddy, how come this can happen to you?,’” Kabayabaya said. “’Dad, you are a really nice person, really friendly and everything’s fine — but we can’t understand what happened for you.’”
A judge later concluded the only motive for the attack was the colour of the victim’s skin, according to Vancouver police.
Shane Arin McKenzie, 25, was convicted of assault with a weapon.
With credit for 90 days of time already served, he was sentenced in August to nine months in jail followed by 12 months probation.
“The justice here in Canada is really not really good justice,” Kabayabaya said.
Global News attempted to reach McKenzie at the Abbotsford address he listed on court documents, but a woman who answered the door Monday said he didn’t live there and that she’d never heard of him since moving in to the home in February.
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Lawyer Tom Spettigue, who represented McKenzie during trial, did not respond to an email from Global News.
“When you are denied justice, then you have to demand the justice on the street,” said African Descent Society of B.C. founder Yasin Kiraga Misago.
Supported by the African Descent Society of B.C., Kabayabaya wants to hold an anti-hate rally in Vancouver in the new year to bring people together and encourage other immigrants to stand up for their rights.
“The case of Willy Kabayabaya doesn’t indicate that Canada is willing to accept the genuine diversity, inclusion belonging in multiculturalism,” added Kiraga Misago.
Kabayabaya acknowledged stopping hate won’t be easy, but he’s confident it will happen in his lifetime.
“There are some people they hate Black people I know,” he told Global News.
“I know it’s going to take a lot of time but in my life I’m a very patient person.”
As he fights for change, Kabayabaya said he’s willing to meet his attacker, who is also a father, face to face.
“One day we can sit together and we can try to understand each other,” Kabayabaya told Global News.
“To hate someone is not good, something happen to me but to give back the same is not OK.”