11/15/2018
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Former Somali refugee sworn in as Victoria city councillor


Tuesday November 6, 2018

New Victoria city councillor Sharmarke Dubow may be fresh to politics but he's already mastered the game of life. Kylie Stanton has more on his journey from refugee camp to Canadian citizen, and now, city hall.

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A Victoria city councillor was elected the first time he was eligible to cast a ballot.

Sharmarke Dubow was only eight years old when his family left Somalia, fleeing the civil war. He boarded a small boat destined for Kenya.

“I actually ended up in a refugee camp called Utange,” said Dubow.

He spent the rest of his childhood there, until its closure forced his family to move to Ethiopia. It was there he began his schooling, but civil unrest once again forced him to flee – this time to Egypt.
“Finished my high school, finished my university,” Dubow said. “My graduation night was another milestone that I was proud of.”

Family in Canada began the sponsorship process in 2010. Two years later, he arrived and eventually settled in Victoria.

He became a Canadian citizen last year.
“That is the story of refugee journey, you never stop until you find safe haven. I felt now I belong to a country, I have a home, I have rights and responsibility.”
For Dubow, that meant running for office and winning a seat on Victoria city council.

“The minute I knew that I won, I couldn’t help myself but cry — with joy, with gratitude,” said Dubow. “You never know where life will take you or who you will become.”

Mayor Lisa Helps said she got a little choked up when Dubow was sworn in last Thursday.

“It says so much, that you can start your life anywhere in the world, you can have any kind of experience. When you end up in Canada, when you end up in Victoria – there’s a possibility of becoming an elected official, a leader in the city.”

Dubow is now ready to start a new journey. He plans to focus on affordability while continuing to work with the refugee community in the capital.



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