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

Penticton, Kelowna, Osoyoos among most searched travel spots for Canadians

New data from Google shows many Canadians are searching for a vacation in the Okanagan

Roots and Blues online festival live tonight on Black Press Media

Tune in to Black Press Media to watch the festival live Aug. 14, 15 and 16

Okanagan COVID-19 case count growth slows

BCCDC data shows a stark contrast between Okanagan-specific numbers released in July and August

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

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Vernon pedestrian struck dies from injuries

Emergency responders are on scene on Main Street near the CIBC, traffic affected

UPDATE: Fire in Lake Country a “smoke chase”

A water bomber reportedly took off from Penticton and is on the way to Lake Country

Kelowna man convicted of not paying taxes after turbulent trial

Man claims he doesn’t meet the definition of a ‘person’ under the federal Income Tax Act

Accused in Kelowna’s 2018 Canada Day killing granted bail more than 1.5 years later

Esa Carriere was stabbed to death during the Canada Day fireworks in downtown Kelowna in 2018

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Most Read