B.C. candidates speak out about facing racism and sexism on the campaign trail

Click to play video: 'Calling out racism and sexism in B.C. election campaign' Calling out racism and sexism in B.C. election campaign
The provincial election campaign has seen several examples of sexism and anti-LGBTQ2 sentiment and as Grace Ke reports, two incidents in recent days are also exposing the racism some B.C. candidates are facing. – Oct 18, 2020

B.C. candidates from both major parties were speaking out this weekend about facing incidents of racism and sexism on the campaign trail.

BC Liberal candidate for Saanich South, Rishi Sharma, and his campaign team say they were fixing signs Saturday night when a man and women pulled up, got out of a vehicle and yelled at the candidate and his supporters.

In a social media video, which has since garnered 5,000 views, the campaign team says the pair was acting in a threatening manor and the man was using racial slurs and making disparaging remarks about Sharma’s ethnicity.

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Sharma said he made the video capturing his campaign team’s reaction and shared it online to highlight the reality that this type of racist abuse continues to occur.

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“I wanted to get it on video not because of what happened to me, because I’m used to that happening to me, I just wanted to ignore it,” Sharma said.

“But this is the first time this happened to three other caucasian people so I wanted to capture their emotions, their feeling, that raw feeling that they had. So we did and if you look at the video, you can tell the anxiety, the hate, the trauma, the emotion it is all there. It’s all real. So imagine how often we have to deal with that as people of colour.”

Sharma said that seeing messages of support online in reaction to his video has been heartwarming.

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The candidate said it is empowering to be able to share the story on social media.

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“I think communicating about something like this is very healthy for your mental health and fore your anxiety. So if you have the opportunity to share it, which I did, and then get all that love and support around you it is such an amazing feeling. I’ve never had that before,” Sharma.

The politician said he’d like to see all policy enacted in British Columbia looked at through the lenses of diversity and equity.

Meanwhile, a BC NDP candidate for Vernon-Monashee had one of her campaign signs vandalized with a racist image and sexist curse word.

Harwinder Sandhu was alerted to the vandalism by her campaign manager on Friday.

She said she often finds her signs are knocked over, or removed, but she wasn’t prepared to see her sign defaced with a swastika and a curse word that is especially offensive to women.

Sandu said it felt like a double attack on her as a woman of colour and left her feeling crushed.

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“Those people need to realize that such attacks [don’t] just hurt the person it hurts entire communities,” Sandu said.

Read more: Surrey BC Liberal candidate’s window smashed, RCMP investigating

However, the politician and nurse said this attack only strengths her resolve to continue with her work.

“On the other hand if they are thinking that this will defer me from following the path I’m following to help and educate and serve people, it won’t,” Sandu said.

“Actually every time this happens it has made me stronger in the past.”

The candidate said she is grateful for the support she has received on social media and is glad the incident is being openly discussed.

“It really gives the opportunity to have the much needed dialogue,” she said.


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