Racism in Summerland

A visible minority, running for council in Summerland, was the subject of both sexism and racism after one of her campaign signs was vandalized over the weekend.

Toni Boot has spent most of her life in Summerland and owns Grasslands Nursery. Outside her business stands a two-sided sign with a campaign slogan touting Boot for council. But sometime either late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, it was changed to include a sexually vulgar ‘C’ word on one side, and a racist slur aimed at blacks on the other side, which also begins with the letter ‘C’.

Boot says she has recognized various forms of racism while growing up, so this latest incident didn’t necessarily surprise her.

“It’s not shocking to me, it’s disappointing,” she explains.

“For somebody that is a visible minority... racism is part of life.”

But she doesn’t want this to be part of her campaign and says this singular incident does not reflect the many good people in the community who have shown her support throughout the years. It just so happens that the incident took place during the run-up to an election where Boot hopes to win a seat on council.

“I don’t want it to be part of my campaign; it’s not part of my platform. However, it’s really great that people are reacting this way. It is shocking for somebody to think this is long behind us, but it’s not shocking, if I might speak for other minorities, it’s not shocking for us.”

Boot also suggests the vandalism was not done by kids, and instead believes an adult changed the lettering.

She raises this speculation because of the vandal’s choice of words, referring to the slur that harkens back to days spent on plantations in the deep south, and Boot says the police agree with her theory.

They (police) consider the vandalism to be hate motivated and are conducting an investigation into the incident.

Meanwhile, Boot does not think her sign will be changed again and says it once again asks residents to throw their support behind her.

“The fact that having had that sign up at Grasslands Nursery for all these years, and this is the only time its been changed, it kind of links it to my decision to run for council, but frankly its just strengthened my resolve.

"And I know this is just a one off thing and that it doesn't reflect at all this town of ours. I know that Summerland is not filled with bigoted people."

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