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‘Let’s all do a self-check’: Okanagan mayor reacts to racist vandalism targeting local family

Summerland mayor Toni Boot hopes the community will be able to have conversations about racism after graffiti containing racist symbols was spray painted on a local residence.

The vandalism, left at the home of an Indo-Canadian family on the evening of July 13, included swastikas. Racist graffiti was also left at the bandshell in Memorial Park.

“It will forever be a fact that this family had to endure this violation and this vandalism,” she said.

READ ALSO: Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Summerland home

READ ALSO: RCMP to investigate hate-motivated vandalism in Summerland

Boot, Summerland’s first Black mayor, said the incident is a hate crime and is being treated as such by the Summerland RCMP.

While the graffiti was left on the home of one family, Boot said its message goes much farther.

“It was also targeting all Indo-Canadians and all people of colour. It has impacted everyone in our town.”

This is not the first-time expressions of racism have occurred in Summerland.

In October 2014, when Boot was running for a seat on Summerland’s municipal council, her business sign was defaced with racist and sexist slurs.

There have also been comments targeting visible minorities, as well as other incidents of racist symbols. One of the most recent was that of a vehicle sporting a Confederate battle flag. The flag is often associated with anti-Black racism.

“We need to stop feeling shocked every time it happens,” Boot said of expressions of racism and hate.

“Summerland, just like every other town, has underlying racism. We all have biases. Let’s all do a self-check. We are part of the solution in this not happening again.”

She is asking for a community conversation, not led by the municipal council, to address racism and hate within the community.

At the same time, many in the community have offered to help the family repaint their home following the incident.

Boot, who has been in contact with the family, said they appreciate the gesture.

However, they, their family and members of the Indo-Canadian community in Summerland have chosen to repair the damage and paint over the graffiti themselves.

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John Arendt

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