Cape Breton University Changed My Life: Meet Sharmake Dubow

At the young age of eight, Sharmake Dubow left his war-torn home in Somalia with his family due to civil and government unrest in the country. Sharmarke lived in several refugee camps before moving to Ethiopia as an undocumented person and started middle school.

It would have been easy for Sharmarke to give up on wanting to get an education as there was no schooling in the camps he had been in for many years; therefore, he had to work hard to catch up to the rest of his classmates. In 2001, civil unrest in Ethiopia forced Sharmarke to leave and seek asylum in Cairo, Egypt, where he lived with his aunt and finished high school. It was then he enrolled in Cape Breton University’s Canadian International College (CIC).

Sharmake graduated in 2012 from the Business Technology program at CIC and started on his long-fought journey to Canada. Sharmarke spent 20 years seeking safe asylum before coming to Canada in 2012. Sharmarke spent four years working with multiple non-profit organizations providing support to refugees in the Middle East. He also worked as a research assistant at the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies at the American University in Cairo.

He now calls Victoria, British Columbia, his home. As a former refugee, Sharmarke has dedicated much of his adult life advocating for human rights, affordable housing, inclusive communities, asylum seekers, migrant workers, immigrants and other marginalized communities.

Sharmarke has wasted no time in finding a platform for his passions. His dedication to diversity and inclusion and his activism as a community leader has earned him multiple awards, including the Victoria Community Leadership Award in 2017 and RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award in 2020. He was elected as a Victoria City Councillor in 2018.

Sharmarke is carving a new path for himself and providing a voice to the residents of Victoria. He loves the city and wants to provide more affordable housing for residents and better transit, among other priorities. He spends time walking in the city that he loves and enjoying nature trails along Victoria Island.

Sharmarke dreams of one day visiting Cape Breton University’s campus in Sydney, Nova Scotia, and meeting some of the students, faculty and staff. He remembers fondly the representatives from Cape Breton University who attended his graduation in Cairo, Egypt, and hopes to attend a graduation ceremony to provide reassurance to those that are now calling Canada their home.

“Everyone has a story – and a struggle.” – Sharmarke Dubow