On West Shore, a spate of racist graffiti causes worry

An anti-racism advocate says the rash of racist graffiti being investigated by West Shore RCMP makes her afraid to live in her community.

Dominique Jacobs, a Black single mother living in Colwood with her four-year-old daughter, said she had a visceral reaction to news the phrase “white lives matter” was spray-painted on the side of a wall on West Shore Parkway and that swastikas and an anti-Black slur were spray-painted onto trees at Royal Roads University.

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“It’s scary,” said Jacobs, who works for the Victoria-based Support Network for Indigenous Women and Women of Colour. “It makes you feel really, really unsure. It makes you feel afraid of who are my neighbours.”

The white supremacist ­message — a statement against the Black Lives Matter anti-racism rallying cry — was spray-painted on the wall of a building under construction on West Shore Parkway near Landing Lane. It was reported to West Shore RCMP on Jan. 21. The next day, the department was informed that swastikas and racial slurs had been painted on trees at Royal Roads.

West Shore RCMP spokeswoman Const. Nancy Saggar said police have not identified any suspects or direct witnesses in either incident. Investigators are not certain that the two incidents are related, so they are being investigated separately, Saggar said.

Jacobs, who is a Royal Roads graduate, said the racist messages show that Canada is not immune to racism and white supremacy.

“This is a person who has had [their] feelings supported by others who feel the same,” said Jacobs, who was born in South Africa, the daughter of an anti-apartheid campaigner who fought for equality alongside Nelson Mandela. “You have to feel very bold to go and do something like this. In my mind, that’s not just one person doing it.”

Her advice to any parents who might have to explain the racial slurs to their children is to speak honestly about the harsh reality of racism in ­society.

“This racist graffiti just underscores the need for Black history month celebrations, the need for Black history education in the Canadian public school system and the need for anti-racism training, the need for equity,” she said.

Royal Roads president Philip Steenkamp said in a statement that the university is working closely with West Shore RCMP. The trees have been cleaned of the graffiti.

“At Royal Roads we stand against all forms of hate and we denounce racism in all its ugly forms,” he said. “We have zero tolerance for this on our campus or in our community.”

Steenkamp is asking the community to support friends, family members and colleagues who may be affected by news of this hateful action “and be an ally and advocate for those who have and continue to face discrimination and racism.”

West Shore RCMP is asking anyone who witnessed the crimes or knows the person or persons responsible to contact them.

Hate speech and mischief like the type displayed here is wrong and has no place in our community and will not be tolerated, Saggar said.

Contact West Shore RCMP at 250-474-2264. Anonymous reports can be made through victoriacrimestoppers.ca or by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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