LESD grad aims to draw on refugee experience

Mansoor Sahak becomes a police officer to give back to Canada for taking in his family as refugees. (Story by Wanda Chow / Photo by Richard Chu)


Mansoor Sahak knew he wanted to be a police officer ever since volunteering at a community policing station and attending the New Westminster Police Department’s Student Police Academy.

He always figured it was because policing is exciting and different from most careers. But eventually, he uncovered a deeper reason. It’s because he feels privileged to live in Canada.

He was too young to remember much of it, but his parents have told him stories. Of how his family fled Afghanistan when the Taliban took power and the war started. How they left almost everything behind. How they escaped to Pakistan where his family of seven shared a home with three other families, all relatives.

“My parents always talk about it. They always wanted to go back to Afghanistan, to go back home. It was the home we grew up in but it was destroyed, there was nothing left of it.”

Mansoor, 22, does remember how, at age nine, he and his family came to Canada as refugees, knowing no English, having to rebuild their lives again. But always his parents would talk about the destruction taking place in their native country, and what continues to be lost.

“You realize that was you at one point, that could have been you,” he said. “But you made it, it’s literally a lottery ticket for my family to come out here.”

He hopes one day to become a police officer to give back to the country that took in his family. To help him to that end, he completed a Law Enforcement Studies Diploma at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC). 

“I absolutely loved it, everything about it. The teachers all have first-hand experience, they’re really there to help you succeed, guide you through. They all talk from experience, they’re smaller classes, you have a lot of one-on-one time with teachers. The school really prepared me for the real world.”

One lesson that surprised him initially was just how competitive it can be to get hired on as a police officer.

“You can’t be slacking. How you dress, how you comport yourself, how you handle yourself, that’s really important. That really matters,” he said. “The atmosphere as well. You’re at a campus where there’s police around, there’s ambulances, paramedics, firefighters, corrections, sheriffs, all around you. You feel you have to stand amongst them.”

Mansoor said his instructors were really helpful and are there to help students succeed, setting the bar high.

“You put in 110 per cent, that’s what you’ll get back. I knew that if I want to succeed and become a member one day that I really have to work my butt off to achieve it.”

Since graduating with his LESD in December 2014, Mansoor has been working as a bylaw officer and a jail guard in the City of North Vancouver, and volunteers as an auxiliary constable with a local RCMP detachment.

He continues to work toward a policing career and hopes one day to be able to use his personal experience to help others.

“All the refugees that are coming, especially from Syria, I want to share my experience with them and say, ‘you know what, you’ve made it this far, I’ve been in your shoes, I’ve been where you are, you can make it, you know?’”

With his experience, culture and language skills, he also hopes to help bridge the gap between local police and newcomers from countries where police are often not liked or trusted. 

“When I came here it was like I had been given a second chance. And that’s kind of a small token of appreciation back to Canada, giving back service.”

UPDATE: Congratulations to Mansoor Sahak who is now off to RCMP Depot for training after being hired as an officer by the RCMP! Here’s his story posted recently on the RCMP website.  


For more information about the Law Enforcement Studies Diploma and to apply for either the January or September cohorts of the program, visit the LESD program webpage.

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