Members of Summerland council and municipal staff are pictured in a July 13 meeting. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

Summerland councillors concerned following racist graffiti incident

Councillors took the time to share their concerns during a meeting on July 20

Summerland’s councillors are deeply concerned and in some cases, surprised, after a family’s home was vandalized on the evening of Monday, July 13.

The Lekhi family has been living in Summerland since 1987, building their home on Hespeler Road in 1990. The homeowners were home at the time of the incident. Kiran Lekhi said she heard a bang and saw broken glass in one of the bedrooms.

The house was also spray-painted with vulgar drawings and a swastika, leaving the family shaken and disturbed.

During the July 20 meeting, councillors talked about the incident, how concerning it was, and how surprising.

“Mrs. Lekhi was absolutely distraught, not understanding why someone would do this to their home,” Counc. Marty Van Alphen said.

“It’s just baffling to see this in our community. This isn’t us, this isn’t Summerland. We need to be better, and this is the time to have a community conversation about this.”

Counc. Doug Holmes said the council has a plan to celebrate and uplift diversity and multiculturalism in Summerland, and that maybe it’s a good time to revisit the plan and see where the district can do better in terms of being inclusive.

“People have said that food, lively festivals and dancing can help celebrate cultures, even a cultural map that can show where residents come from originally,” Holmes said.

“In our cultural plan, we have an action item: to recognize Summerland’s cultural diversity. Maybe we haven’t done that well enough. When we do have festivals, where is the multicultural component?”

Mayor Toni Boot pointed out there is a difference between celebrating cultures in Summerland and talking about the racism against those cultures, which is what has happened recently.

“I’m not suggesting we dismiss this, but I think the discussions that we have to have as a community go well beyond celebrating multiculturalism and celebrating diversity,” Boot said.

“The difficult conversation is around the racism and I don’t want that to be pushed aside because it has been pushed aside forever. Not just in this community, but in all communities.”

She added despite some of the councillors’ shock at the incident, she herself isn’t.

“Having grown up here, I continue to say this isn’t a racist town but there is an underlying element of racism in this town and I’ve been subjected to it over and over and over again.”

READ: Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Summerland home

READ: Racist act sparks Summerland family to raise funds for unity display


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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