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

(Pacific Coastal Airlines photo)
Potential COVID-19 exposure on March 1 Penticton flight

Interior Health lists a public exposure for the Pacific Air Flight from Vancouver on March 1

Isaac Gilbert is running for council in the by-election for Jake Kimberley’s vacated seat. (Submitted)
First candidate for council by-election makes himself known

Isaac Gilbert is making a second run at council after receiving 19.63 per cent of the vote in 2018

The Town of Osoyoos is looking into allowing two food trucks at the downtown plaza over the summer, which would require updates to several town policies and bylaws. (Kevin Clark - Black Press Media File)
Osoyoos council to weigh allowing additional downtown food trucks

The proposal would be aimed to benefits the summer’s downtown plaza

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

(Baldy Mountain Resort / Facebook) 
(Baldy Mountain Resort / Facebook)
Baldy Mountain calls out snowmobilers for damaging ski hill

The Resort is fed up with snowmobilers running across their trails

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Multiple people were injured at a Vernon home following an early-morning break-in Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Multiple people left injured following break-and-enter in Vernon

Police believe the early-morning break-in was targeted and not a threat to the general public

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna General Hospital

One patient and one staff member on Unit have tested positive for the virus.

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

A Coldstream resident who found an owl struggling on her property in March 2021 is now spreading awareness of about the knock-on effects of rodent poisoning. (Kathy Renaud photo)
Okanagan owl ‘fighting for her life’ after ingesting rat poison

Coldstream resident warns against the use of rodenticide due to risk of secondary poisoning in raptors

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Fire ripped through a mobile home on Boucherie Road in West Kelowna on March. 6. (Phil McLachlan - West Kelowna News)
‘My whole life just went up in smoke’; Fire consumes Okanagan mobile home

RCMP confirmed that there were no injuries due to the fire

Most Read