WINNIPEG — Jeremie Minani is far from your average teenager.
The Windsor Park student has a love of music, hip hop to be exact and his stage name is “Refuge”.
Most rap artists in the industry have a name that is derived from, or includes a part of their past and Jeremie is no different.
The teen came to Canada with his family in 2006 from Rwanda, escaping life in a refugee camp.
“It was crazy. Around 18,000 living in the refugee camp and three families out of the whole refugee camp were chosen,” said Minani. “We were a part of that and we immigrated here in 2006 in December..out of all the months.”
Jeremie was born four years after the 1994 Genocide. And despite the hardships his family endured along the way his love of music never wavered.
Known as “the music kid” in his camp his love of the art form took another turn in 2011 when he started to write and perform rap music.
“I felt like, I’m here I have a gift. People came into my life and just brought out this gift in me,” said Jeremie. “I could use this to help the world in some way because I believe I came here for a reason. What I’m doing now really seems like the reason I’m here.”
Not long after he attracted the attention of Winnipeg born artist Fresh I.E. The two formed a friendship and doors began to open.
He has performed on stage in front of thousands at various events through KIDS Initiative, TJ’s Gift Foundation and others. Not to mention the various First Nations communities and schools within Winnipeg and beyond.
For Jeremie, the best part about performing is helping to give hope, and offer encouragement to young kids that may be having a tough time in life.
“At 7 years old seeing the things that I did and experience the hardship from the refugee camp…and you know we got through it,”said Jeremie. “I basically let them in to my story and let them know as well through the music – I was able to get through it and anybody can.”
One of those trips he made was to Nunavut.
Even when he’s not on stage he continues to inspire those around him. Including at school.
“He changes the mood, he changes the atmosphere of the classroom,” said Carla Allan, Career Internship teacher. “He inspires people in this building to follow their dreams and do what they really want to do because he’s been accomplishing his since he was in junior high.”
It really is no surprise then that after graduation he’ll continue doing what he can to change young lives.
“Basically just go into communities and impact them in a very unique way,” said the teen. “Help the communities, just letting them know there’s still greatness inside of the young people there.”
After he graduates he’ll continue doing what he loves, helping kids with his story.
If you are interested in seeing Jeremie and his group, Elyon, perform you can check them out here:
- Reconnect Soul 2NE Live, Friday, June 24, 7 p.m. 1771 Pembina Hwy.
- World Wide Gift of Hope, Saturday, June 25 6 p.m. 479 St. Mary’s Road.