Canadian Champion Runner
CanadaQBank.com Sponsored Athlete
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Yves Sikubwabo was born in Kigali, Rwanda in 1993. Rwanda is a small country in east Africa that borders Uganda and Tanzania.
When Yves was just a year old, both his parents were murdered in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. A tragedy that saw over 800,000 Rwandans of the 'Tutsi' ethnic group selectively killed by extremists from another ethnic group known as 'Hutu'. There was movie made in 2004 called 'Hotel Rwanda' about these events.
Yves' father was a Tutsi. But despite the fact that Yves' mother was Hutu, she was considered a 'moderate Hutu' because of her marriage to a Tutsi. Yves survived the genocide with the protection of his Hutu aunt, Floriane Nyirambabazi, who later raised him.
Much like many children in Rwanda and other parts of Africa, unable to afford transportation, he would run 11 kilometres to get to school every morning, then run another 11 kilometers back home after school.
In 2002, Yves joined a running club coached by a man named Jean Dmascene Nkezabo, who became his mentor. By 2009, Yves won Rwanda's national 1500m track championship.
In 2010, Yves qualified to compete at the World Junior Track and Field Championships. He was the only athlete from Rwanda to do so. That year these championships were held in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.
Only 17 at the time, Yves, without a parent, coach or teammate, boarded a plane at Kigali Airport and left Rwanda for the first time in his life.
Having spoken the Rwandan language 'Kinyarwanda' his whole life, when Yves arrived in Canada he did not know even one word of English.
He competed in the 1500m at the World Junior Championships, and set a personal best time, a very respectable 3 minutes and 50 seconds for a 17 year old from a small African country.
After the race, Yves called his aunt who gave him troubling news. She told him that many perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide including his parent's killers had been released from prison threatening to finish what they started. There was word in his neighborhood that some of these extremists had come looking for him.
Fearing for his safety and acknowledging that Canada offered the opportunity of a better life, Yves' aunt told him to stay in Canada. Yves called his coach Jean Dmascene as well, who agreed with his aunt's advice.
He was in Canada, essentially as a solitary orphan. No parents, no language, no home. However as a testament to his determination and character, with only forty Canadian dollars in his pocket, Yves took a bus from New Brunswick to Ottawa. After arriving in Ottawa he went to a government office and claimed Refugee Status. He then was informed of a homeless shelter where he lived for the next few months.
With little to do, he continued running every day and began memorizing the streets of Ottawa. One weekend, he entered a local half-marathon race, which he won.
There he was spotted by a young man named Mike Woods, who is Canada's Junior 3000m record holder. Woods immediately recognized that he was witnessing a great runner and approached him and learned his story. Woods encouraged him to join his running club.
Shortly afterwards, Yves' story of a homeless 17 year old Rwandan refugee distance runner made it into a local newspaper, where it was read by Dr. Nicole Le Saux, an Ottawa physician who is an infectious disease specialist.
Le Saux and her husband, Dr. James Farmer, an ophthalmologist, invited Yves to their home for dinner. Impressed and humbled with Yves' respectful and kind personality, the husband and wife decided to offer Yves' the option of living with them and attending a nearby high school. Yves accepted. They later became his adoptive parents.
He enrolled at Glebe high school and won the Ontario high school (OFSAA) gold medal in Cross Country and Track two years in a row.
After graduating from high school in 2012, he was accepted at the University of Guelph, where he is currently a third year undergraduate. A dedicated student, he is majoring in Engineering. He competes for the Guelph Cross Country running and Track teams. He is coached by Dave Scott-Thomas.
Yves has succeeded at many provincial and national championships, including winning the gold medal at the 2012 Canadian Junior Track and Field Championships and the silver medal at the 2013 Canadian University (CIS) Track and Field Championships.
Yves obtained his Canadian citizenship in 2015 and has plans to represent Canada at future international competitions such as the Commonwealth Games, World Championships and Olympic Games.
In 2013 Yves accepted an Athletic Sponsorship deal from CanadaQBank.com, an online test preparation service that learned of his remarkable story and decided that he was an ideal person to represent the company by wearing the company logo.
Yves is still in contact with his teammates from Rwanda and together with CanadaQBank.com has helped sponsor running races in his hometown of Kigali, offering prizes to school aged children.
If you would like to show your support and communicate with Yves, he can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in helping sponsor running races in Rwanda for school aged children, please contact CanadaQBank.com at email@example.com