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

A sign encouraging COVID-19 safety steps, with the Bayside rugby clubhouse – located adjacent to Semiahmoo Secondary and the South Surrey track – in background; Jan. 6, 2021. (Photo: Tracy Holmes)
Surrey sees 2,400 new COVID-19 cases in February

This is the lowest monthly increase since last fall

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of March 7

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole speaks during a virtual South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce town hall on Saturday, March 6, 2021.
O’Toole says South Surrey, White Rock face ‘acute’ challenges during pandemic

Federal Conservative leader speaks at local chamber town hall

A CVS pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Photo: Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
COVID-19 vaccination bookings start Monday for some Surrey seniors

First up is seniors aged 90-plus, and Indigenous seniors, elders aged 65-plus

Labour Minister Harry Bains addressing Surrey Board of Trade digital meeting Friday. (Screen shot)
Labour Minister says Surrey businesses’ resilience through pandemic ‘impressive’

‘Surrey’s effort in bending the curve has been among the best,’ Harry Bains says

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

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

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 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.

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

The family of injured Willoughby resident Ronald Gerald Jesso is hoping someone saw something that will help solve the mystery of how he came to be so badly hurt on the morning of Feb. 22. Jesso is still in hospital. (Jesso family/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An appeal to help solve the mystery of an injured Langley man

Family of Ronald Gerald Jesso asks witnesses to come forward

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Most Read