Victoria Coun. Sharmarke Dubow faced said the racism he faced after his holiday travels are a reminder that anti-Black racism exists in our community. (Photo by Quinton Gordon)

Victoria Coun. Sharmarke Dubow faced said the racism he faced after his holiday travels are a reminder that anti-Black racism exists in our community. (Photo by Quinton Gordon)

Victoria councillor faces racism after holiday travel

Sharmarke Dubow’s career focuses on marginalized communities

While several politicians faced backlash for travelling in December, a Victoria councillor also received racist messages.

In January, Coun. Sharmarke Dubow came under fire for travelling to Somalia and Kenya, despite COVID-19 travel advisories urging Canadians to stay in their communities.

He said he went to East Africa to support his family during the pandemic.

“I know there are many Victorians and Islanders who haven’t seen their loved ones, many of whom are living with considerable hardships and are vulnerable to COVID-19,” he said. “So my desire to see my family was not unique.

“I understood why people were angry and upset and disappointed, which they had the right to be upset and angry. And I respect that.”

Alongside the anger coming into Dubow’s inbox, was racism.

“This is not new or unique to my experience. Many Black, Indigenous, people of colour, face these kinds of messages regularly,” he said.

“And this is a reminder that regardless of our individual experiences and achievements as Black people, anti-Black racism continues to create poor outcomes for Black communities across the country,” he added. “We need to work together to build communities that are stronger and healthier.”

READ ALSO: Mifflin Gibbs: First Black man elected in B.C. won a Victoria council seat in 1866

Dubow, a politician and community advocate, has been trying to do just that for several years.

In 2018, the Somalia-born, former refugee became Victoria’s first Black councillor in more than 150 years, following in the footsteps of famous Victoria councillor Mifflin Gibbs, the first Black man elected in the province.

But 152 years after Gibbs made history, Dubow is still one of only a few Black municipal politicians in the country.

“People of African descent and Black communities are underrepresented in politics in all sectors,” he said. “And this really impacts how we see ourselves in the spaces we exist and move through.”

At eight years old Dubow fled Somalia with his older sister. He lived in a refugee camp in Kenya and spent two decades moving from place to place, in search of a permanent home, until he immigrated to Canada in 2012.

His career focuses on marginalized communities – working at the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria and the Victoria Immigrant Refugee Services Centre as well as the Victoria Tenant Action Group.

“I come from a humbling beginning where I watched my mother stand against injustice,” he said. “She was outspoken and would also speak up for those who had less, but she also had a compassion for everyone she met. So when I ran for office, I did it for my community.

“I wanted to be part of pushing for more inclusivity.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

– With files from Canadian Press.

READ ALSO: Victoria councillor nominated one of Canada’s top immigrants


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Black History Monthracism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The development plan for a proposed Willoughby building showing a possible library site. (Pollyco/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Langley Township council says no to delay in considering Willoughby library

One councillor called for a system-wide review before making a decision

Langley sister Shannon Obando, 35, and Jen Spier, 29, started Hope in a Box, which features items from local small businesses, to fundraiser for non-profit Hope International. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley sisters Hope in a Box fundraiser: local products with global impact

All proceeds will benefit non-profit Hope International

Christian Burton is not a cold-weather kind of athlete, but he took the plunge anyway, getting dunked to help raise funds for Special Olympics. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Langley’s Christian Burton takes the plunge for Special Olympics

A freezing dip in a kiddie pool to raise money for athletes

A new Fraser Valley food hub in Abbotsford will include shared kitchen space that can be accessed by small and medium-sized businesses. (Stock photo by Robyn Wright from Pixabay)
Almost $2M to support new Fraser Valley food hub in Abbotsford

Project being developed by District of Mission and Mission Community Skills Centre

COVID-19 virus. (CDC photo)
School records 2nd COVID-19 alert this week, while employee at Langley grocer tests positive

Families of H.D. Stafford Middle were also notified on Monday

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

A woman boards a transit bus through rear doors, in Vancouver, on Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
TransLink slow to reveal crucial details about ransomware attack, says union

Union says company took months to admit what info was stolen, including SIN and bank account details

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Most Read