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Editorial: Having an Iranian Canadian in local government is long overdue

Iranian Canadians are a major piece of the fabric of the North Shore, but this is the first time that piece has been included in our political tapestry
Shervin Shahriari was elected to City of North Vancouver council on Oct. 15, 2022. He says he is the first Iranian-born Canadian elected to local government in B.C.

There are about 13,000 immigrants from Iran living in North Vancouver and West Vancouver and many more who descend from them – all of them very much a part of the fabric of the North Shore. It’s more than kebab koobideh. It is a language, a set of cultural values and a way of seeing the world.

But until this most recent municipal elections, that piece of the fabric has never been woven into our political tapestry. Though many have tried, Shervin Shahriari is believed to be the first Iranian-born Canadian elected to government in B.C. To this, we say mobârake.

The North Shore became a destination for Iranian émigrés who fled the Islamic Revolution and ensuing war with Iraq in the 1970s and '80s. They chose this place because the mountains reminded them of home. Who can blame them?

Having a diaspora of one nationality concentrated in a community makes us inextricably linked to their home country. That seems especially so when that country is run by a dictatorship with no respect for human rights. When government sanctions have clamped down on Iran, it impacts Iranian-Canadians here and their loved ones at home. When Iran shot down Flight 572, the grief was felt immensely on the North Shore. Today, as Iranian government rightly faces revolt from within over the murder of Mahsa Amini and its continued refusal to recognize the rights of women, our local Persian community continues to demand change.

It is high time this community has earned some representation. We congratulate Shahriari on his achievement and we celebrate with the Persian community who, after contributing so much to life on the North Shore, now see in government a leader with similar lived experience.

What are your thoughts? Send us a letter via email by clicking here or post a comment below.