As a young newcomer to Canada from Fiji, Faiyaz Khan experienced bullying and discrimination.
A boy who was two years older would constantly pick on him. At the time, Khan was an eighth-grader in a school in Vancouver.
One day the bully challenged him to a fight. Khan, who had not gotten into a fight before opted to remain in his class during the break, aware that the bully was waiting for him outside. But Khan’s friends had urged him to take up the challenge, pointing out that the other boy would get him at some point. “Everyone is out there waiting for you. If you don’t come out now, he will get you when school is out in the afternoon”, they urged.
In the fight, Khan had been able to overpower the bully. But it had not ended there. The school authorities had chosen to transfer Khan to a different school, even though he was the victim.
He found the new school to be different from what he was used to. “The older boys were forming gangs to fight against other racial communities which were attacking the coloured communities,” he says. “There were allegations that the school gangs had connections to groups outside the school; underworld gangs trading in drugs and other illegal activities”, explains Khan.
But Khan was determined not to be dragged into any of their dealings. Khan instead sought refuge through his passion for music, writing lyrics and singing them.
In the mid- 1990s his songs were aired on local radio shows, but a car accident that resulted in a broken jaw meant he had to put a hold on furthering his music career.
When Fijian Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama visited Canada in 2015, the Prime Minister’s efforts to turn Fiji around inspired Khan to write a new song; You Made things Right. Khan then decided to use that negative experience he encountered in Canada when he first arrived to share a positive message not only for youth or newcomers, but for everyone.
It led to Khan producing more songs, this time bringing the message of peace, harmony, and equality to the world.
In June 2017, Khan’s song on unity was chosen as the theme for Canada’s Multiculturalism Day celebrations in Vancouver.
Khan then launched a music video ‘We are One’ to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary, a song, which he says is a ‘love letter to his adopted country.’ It has caused a sensation not only among Canadians but many across the globe. The song was sung by a group that included his children as well as other popular singers from the indigenous and other ethnic communities in Canada.
His movement also named ‘We are One’ describes its vision on its website as one that wants “to raise awareness to help stop some of the Bigotry, Racism, Hatred, Islamophobia, Bullying that we see in our daily lives around the world.”