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
Follow me on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Okanagan Correctional Centre outbreak due to training session: Interior Health

Interior Health said in a statement the staff members were at an off-site training session

Morning Start: A Texas law allows astronauts to vote from space

Your morning start for Friday, August 14, 2020

Invasive mussel monitoring stations detect 10 boats

Boats were headed to Okanagan and Thompson regions

COVID-19 outbreak at Okanagan Correctional Centre, involves 3 staff

Three staff involved in possible exposure, health officials say

Roots and Blues festival to kick off virtually on Friday

Watch the festival on Black Press Media website platforms, for free

STANDING TALL: Forestry workers meet the challenges, remain hopeful

A look at the forest sector in B.C. – and those hoping for the best – amid mill curtailments

Man suffers serious injuries in bear attack in remote area near Lillooet

It was deemed a defensive attack, no efforts were made to locate the animal

Parkinson SuperWalk goes virtual throughout B.C. due to COVID-19

People encouraged to walk around their neighbourhood, along community trails, through parks, forests

87-year-old Salmon Arm woman sinks hole-in-one

The Aug. 12 ace is Helen Bobbitt’s fourth.

COVID-19 exposure on WestJet flight to Kelowna

Those in WestJet flight 461 from Calgary to Kelowna were possibly exposed

Missed rent payments ‘cause of COVID-19? You have until July 2021 to pay up

Each monthly instalment must be paid on the same date the rent is due

U.S.-Canada pandemic border restrictions extended into September

‘We will continue to keep our communities safe,’ says Public Safety Minister Bill Blair

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

WE Charity registers as lobbyist, lays off staff, looking to sell real estate

WE Charity said its financial position has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read