Saturday, October 31, 2009

Do we all have a role to build an inclusive, diverse community?

Prof offers some tips for creating top essay:

Ken Herar, Special to the TimesPublished:
Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This is will be my final column promoting the Building an Inclusive, Diverse Community essay contest.The entire exercise has been a blast. Where have the past four months gone?All essays must be submitted this Friday, before 5 p.m. to the Times office, or to my e-mail address. The question again is: What have you done or what can you do to make our community inclusive?This year's winner will receive a ticket to the Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards held on March 25 at the Ramada Inn in Abbotsford.Here are a few tips for you last-minute writers from University of the Fraser Valley English professor Andrew Gutteridge. He says good organization will save a poor essay and bad organization will ruin a good one. He recommends getting a pack of note cards and writing down one idea per card. Then gather the main idea or the thesis. Divide the thesis into two or three main points and then each of these into sub points.Gutteridge said: "Demand every word to exist and revise ruthlessly."Someone responded that our contest does not promote inclusiveness because it has age restrictions from 14 to 26. In the past we did offer adult categories and didn't have much success.Profiling the work of youth, which in many cases goes undetected, creates a brighter future for our community. It provides them with a positive experience that will hopefully be with them for the rest of their lives.DOES DIVERSITY CREATE FEAR AND ISOLATION IN ABBOTSFORD-MISSION?A unknown e-mail source shared his personal story with me. He claims, he has attended many South Asian events and visited their homes, but when he invites them they are a no-show.He said: "I have attended funerals and weddings in their places of worship, but they decline to come to mine."For many new South Asians families, mixing into the North American culture is challenging.We are still in the "adjustment period" as a young developing nation.The respondent later shares: "I believe that the biggest contribution we can do to be more inclusive is to stop demanding our "right" and instead be gracious for the privilege of living in Canada."Barry Crocker, a physiotherapist in Abbotsford for 20 years before becoming the manager of the Abbotsford Soccer Association, raised an interesting observation with me as a former soccer player.He forwarded this to me: "I am a big believer in a peaceful happy community, members of which understand the different cultures which make up that community."I believe that sport, and in particular my great passion soccer, can really be a tremendous vehicle in achieving the aim of forging communities," said Crocker.I feel that the several "clubs" in the city that cater to only certain specific groups are doing a disservice to the many kids who would benefit from playing in the mainstream of British Columbia Soccer, and more importantly, as Crocker said, "playing, training and socializing with all Abbotsfordians."I have always made it a personal commitment to encourage South Asians - and everyone else for that matter - to participate in mainstream community events and break the so-called line of divide.I stated last week to the Dasmesh Punjabi School students: "As members of the South Asian community we have the most to gain as a whole, but also the most to lose."Valid concerns have been raised because if we are going to live together we must also interact with each other on and off the field.As Canadians, we all have a social and community responsibility to become better citizens.
Award-winning columnist Ken (Kulwinder) Herar writes for the Abbotsford-Mission Times. E-mail him at Kenherar@gmail.com. You can also check out his blog at http://kenherar.blogspot.com

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Meeting Spiritual Leader Hari Nam....

Hari Nam Singh - Sikh Spiritual Leader
Published February 29, 2008
By Ken Herar
I had the privilege of sitting down with Sikh Spiritual Leader Hari Nam Singh Khalsa in Abbotsford who was in various Lower Mainland communities speaking with people of all walks of life about Sikhism. Hari Nam Singh, has a national TV program reaching millions of viewers. Insight into Sikhism is the only regularly scheduled English-language television program about Sikhism, the faith of some 30 million worldwide. Hari Nam Singh Khalsa explains aspects of the Sikh religion and their relevance to modern-day issues. Insight Into Sikhism is aired on CTS in Ontario and Alberta, OMNI in Western Ontario and carried via satellite across Canada. Hari Nam Singh Khalsa was born in Toronto, Canada. At the age of ten, a life transforming experience altered his understanding of faith. This was the beginning of a life-long spiritual journey, which included traveling throughout the world to study comparative religions. Hari Nam Singh Khalsa holds the spiritual title of Mukhia Singh Sahib, is a Spiritual Leader, Corporate Mentor, Author, Creator of the Healing Science of Sensory Healing, Founder of Khalsa Academy and director of the Healing Arts Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.Hari Nam Singh Khalsa opens the doors for all faiths providing lectures on peace, spiritual upliftment and unity. Acknowledged as a prominent leader and teacher in the field of mind, body and spirit, Hari Nam Singh Khalsa continues to elevate, enhance and explore our essential nature, restoring the memory of the wholeness in our lives. Having authored "Wisdom Shared" "Power of Prayer for Mind, Body and Spirit" along with DVD's and guided meditations CD's, Hari Nam Singh Khalsa continues to revolutionize common wisdom about crucial connections through mind, body, spirit and healing. Hari Nam Singh Khalsa's mission is to uplift the truth, well-being, peace and the natural essence of all people. Hari Nam Singh feels very privileged to be serving the British Columbia Sikh community. He visits many schools, temples, and counsels individuals and families, spreading a message of unity, harmony and peace. His next visit to our area will be on April 17-21, where again he will be lecturing, counseling and is a guest speaker at the Baisakhi Day Parade. To find out more about his mission and further information, you can visit the website, www.insightintosikhism.com.
KenHerar@gmail.com
Added 2008-02-29 11:21:07

Pushing 'send" before brain is activated..

Pushing 'send' before brain is activated
By Ken Herar, The TimesPublished: Friday, June 05, 2009

My mother always taught me that we should try to find the good in everyone - albeit this can be challenging when you are faced with derogatory and racist remarks.
Leaving my e-mail address at the bottom of this column is a symbol of respect, if you will, to our readership. I don't like to lurk in distance shadows where no one can reach me.
I trust people will use this communication tool to their advantage, working together to create an inclusive, diverse community.
I have enjoyed many interesting exchanges and dialogues with readers. Heck, I don't even mind being heckled from time to time.
But, one word of advice before you decide to press the "send" button with your message - try to be respectful and non-racist.
If you choose to disagree with me, your opinions are still welcome. If you decide to be a racist, you're wasting your time and will not get a response. That's my golden rule! My public e-mail address is a racist-free zone.
Generally, readers have conveyed their messages in a non-racist fashion. But, every so often, there is a surprise envelope waiting in my inbox.
This past week, I probably encountered the most racist e-mails ever. Honestly, it made my blood boil and made me angry.
The individual who claims to be Fijian - which is part of the greater Indo-Canadian family - attacks Canadians of Sikh origin.
His page-long e-mail blasts the Sikh community. He calls them "ragheads," and suggests they go back to cleaning toilets or back to India. He also suggests that Fijian's are "much better than ragheads."
As a Canadian of Sikh descent, I am deeply offended by these racist remarks. The Fijian community, which has many exceptional members in Canada, doesn't need representation from a man who is clearly in need of help.
He also takes the time to poke personal shots at me throughout the e-mail asking me to go work in the berry fields.
To tell you the truth, I would love to - and I deeply admire the people who do the farming in this area.
Racists have empty and delusional minds with no clear outlook. What do you think they really accomplish? Nothing.
Hecklers have tried to shake my feathers many times throughout my writing career, but I have proven that my endurance and passion toward building an inclusive, diverse community is much stronger than anything they can offer to this discussion.
Canadians from Sikh origin are hardworking citizens, who are making a difference in our communities worldwide. Throughout, my travels in Canada or the United States, I have met many Sikhs who are excelling and contributing back to their respective communities.
KenHerar@gmail.com

Teaming up with Kusum Soni to Promote Diversity...

Youth Teaching Youth" Project – My journey through diversity challenge
Published September 26, 2008
Kusum Soni (Ph.D)Multicultural Youth LeaderMission Community Services Society

I am compelled to share my views once more after reading this Tuesday’s column of Ken Herar on his continued series of Diversity Challenge quest "What have you done or what could you do to include someone into your culture or community organization?" when he seems to be highly enthusiastic about his effort with his charismatic zeal to motivate youth to build an inclusive society. Truly speaking, I got highly moved by his impulsive spark "I have been speaking about building an inclusive, diverse community. How about building an inclusive world?" It took me past over three decades when I was an innocent grade 5 student and my father asked me to join a patriotic song singing on our Independence Day (India) , that is 15th August. I was bit uncomfortable and I asked my father "do we celebrate our separation with Pakistan? Can’t we sing something like "global peace" song which doesn’t say we are proud because we are Indians but which says we are proud to be human beings and we have no hatred for people on the basis of territorial segregations?" My father looked into my eyes and went off saying nothing but today I see him working on the same mandate and so I am. My mandate is to be a facilitator among all the communities living in this highly Multicultural Canada and "help them to help themselves" for their tough transition coming from their home countries and have a comfortable settled life in Canada.
Today I met Ken for the first time in person when I teamed up with him to Heritage Park Secondary School in Mission. It was a perfect compliment between us when he was introducing the meaning of diversity for his diversity challenge quest to the sprouting young boys and girls of grade-8 to 12 and I introduced about my Multicultural Youth Project "Youth Teaching Youth" funded by BC Anti-racism Multicultural Program (BCAMP). The essence of the project is powerful and very straight forward; very different from normal stream--------it is an effort to bring culturally diverse youth to one common meaningful point and give a positive direction to think through the ways they enjoy life; for example through fine arts, visual arts, performing arts drama and music. It is about joy of introspection and building a vision …….and we all set a stage together to express ourselves in the fullest energy and share our strengths. Set aside for a moment where we are born and where we are raised, but only one common impulse bubbling out of heart that we are here for peace and intense spirit of activity. We want that energy, that love of independence, that spirit of self-reliance, that immovable fortitude, that bond of unity of purpose and that thirst for improvement. Checking a little the constant looking back to the past, we want that expansive vision infinitely projected forward; and we want that intense spirit of activity which will flow through our every vein, from head to foot. The intense spirit of activity is aiming at three things:1. Conviction of the power of Goodness2. Absence of jealousy and suspicion3. Helping all who are trying to be and do good"I am thoroughly convinced that no individual or no nation can live by holding itself apart from the community of others, and whenever such an attempt has been made under false ideas of greatness, policy or holiness—the result has always been disastrous to the secluding one. Give and take is the law. Come and bring your treasures and throw them broadcast among the people of all nations of earth and in return, be ready to receive what others have to give to you. Expansion is life!" said that great Indian saint, Vivekananda a century ago for all of us living today and for the generations to come.To participate in "Youth Teaching Youth" project, you can contact me at Mission Community Services, Multicultural Department, 33179, 2nd Ave. Mission, BC. 604-826-3634

Crime Bites Again...

Its Time to Stand up to Crime
Published May 22, 2008
By: Ken Herar
I am sorry to share with you that my family was victimized again of a targeted theft incident for the second time. If you recall a few short months ago my parent's vehicle was stolen from a public parking lot in Mission. The police located the vehicle six days later and it was returned to us. We had just started to put this horrible ordeal behind us until this latest intrusion, two weeks ago. Without getting into the specifics of the case, I am absolutely disappointed in what I see is a steady decline of our society over the past decades. As law-abiding citizens we have become too accepting to the fact that theft is a part of life, which is a lousy excuse for allowing it to happen in the first place. Our moral values and respect for each other are degenerating at a rapid pace and we must change this sooner than later. Stealing someone's vehicle is one issue, but when you aren't even safe in your own homes it really becomes scary. Have we entered an era of security and surveillance? I can honestly say after these two related or unrelated incidents we now have security in our cars, in our homes and everywhere else you can possibly image. All of this is a real tragedy not only for my family, but also for society because I can remember a time when you could leave your personal belongings and they would be there upon your return. Here are some crime statistics from the Greater Mission area. In the first quarter of this year, the Mission RCMP website shows from the period of January - March 2008 there have been 92 break and enter, 90 thefts from vehicles and 68 thefts of vehicles compared to 103 a year ago. Some improvements have been made, but for a small community these numbers are still outrageously high. This is definitely a concern the community needs to address immediately before the criminal element destroys Mission. The police are doing the best job with the resources they have, but as citizens we all have a responsibility in improving the condition of our community making it safer and cleaner. It will take a total community effort to address this problem before it comes knocking on your doorstep. What has been clearly demonstrated here is that some have too much time on their hands watching and preying on innocent people with busy lives. My family will move forward again, but unfortunately will never forget what has happened to us. This has altered our lives making us more aware of today's environment. One thing that has not disappeared is our love for the Mission community.
KenHerar@gmail.com

Prominent BC Doctor passes away...

Dr. Joginder Grewal: Chief of Pathology Services - MSA Hospital, Passes Away
Published August 01, 2008
People & Faces
by Ken Herar

As the new Abbotsford hospital prepares to open its doors, it will be without one of its finest and most respected medical professionals. Dr. Joginder Grewal, who was the Chief of Pathology Services at the MSA hospital for many years passed away on June 28, after battling an illness with cancer. Grewal, who completed his Masters in Surgery from Chandigarh, India in 1971, and later came to Canada in 1972, after marrying his wife Surinder. A dedicated medical professional, who headed back to medical school when arriving as a new Canadian, was always willing to better himself. Completing his internship in Winnipeg and his specialization in General Pathology at University of British Columbia in 1979, he and his family settled in Abbotsford in 1989.
He became actively involved in the medical community and instrumental in the design of the Pathology Services at the new hospital. He was also the President of the MSA Medical Society, Chairperson of the Pathology Group for the Fraser Health Authority and on the Board of Directors of the British Columbia Medical Association
Longtime friend, Dr. Barry Turchen of Abbotsford described his thoughts, " he was someone who will be missed by all, who had the privilege of knowing him. He was a special person, who positively touched the lives of many with his kindness and generosity. His contributions as a respected professional and leader with foresight have made our new hospital and the medical community of our province a much better place to be".
Pathologist and crime analysis professional's work closely together, similar to television program CSI. I recall many interesting conversations with him on his fascinating career. The general duty of a pathologist, is someone, who specializes in laboratory medicine, who examines blood, urine and other body fluids. They also conduct autopsies to determine cause of death and surgical pathology examining different specimens removed by surgeons and other doctors for gross and microscopic examinations.
He practiced medicine with integrity and respect. He understood the fragility and science of life and knew in the time of sickness, life could be taken away from us anytime. He met his illness with tremendous courage and accepted his fate with dignity. Surinder shared these comments about her husband, " kind, knowledgeable, willing to learn, respectful and helpful. He always had great respect for diversity and spent time a lot of time learning about the many different religions".
His life will not only remain a role model for students, who wish to pursue a career in medicine, but for new Canadians who want to come to Canada and rise to the top of their professions. Grewal, is survived by his wife and his two children and his granddaughter. He will be sadly missed and his service to the medical profession in Abbotsford and across the province will be remembered.
KenHerar@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Commentary on my Diversity Challenge


On race and relationships
By Kristine Thiessen

Last Saturday, News columnist Ken Herar appealed to youth in Abbotsford and Mission to share their thoughts on building inclusive and diverse communities. My own thoughts meandered to the topic of misconceptions about interracial relationships and their impact on society.
With Abbotsford’s ethnic minority populations growing, the instances of interaction between different races will also grow. Fears, wariness, and misunderstandings lessen, and more interracial dating occurs.
Interracial relationships are usually seen as symbolic of an increasingly inclusive community. Often, interracial relationships are deemed “trendy,” and year after year articles on how it is becoming hip to mix appear as news.
When these articles do appear, the increase in mixed couples is sometimes touted as the beginning of the end of racism, or the end of race mattering, in whatever multicultural community is being discussed.
And for some who enter into a mixed race relationship with a minority, they see it as proof that they are completely acceptant of other cultures. I remember reading one column where the author claimed that dating an Asian woman with a language barrier made him feel “more a part of Vancouver than ever before.”However, interracial relationships do not automatically lead to the eradication of racism. As one academic put it, a mixed race kid is not a “ ‘rainbow child,’ glimmering with hope for a colour-blind future.”
There exists a misconception that mixed race children will grow up acceptant of all races. Just because a person is of more than one race does not mean that person is born with an innate understanding of all others.
As well, tension between races can be exacerbated, not dissolved, if interracial relationships are perceived as one race taking “our” women or men, or if the act of dating out of the group is seen as a betrayal.
On the other hand, there are also men and women who claim to have specific racial preferences based on preconceived stereotypes. For instance, the so-called “rice king,” a white male who claims to actively pursue only Asian females, seeking out the supposedly passive, exotic women.As a half Japanese, half Caucasian Canadian, I’ve heard my share of misguided mixed race comments, from being called “exotic” to being told my mixed babies will be hot.
However, most interracial relationships, like the one I am in now, are based on romance and connection, just like any other relationship. We should stop trying to decode why interracial dating occurs and what the trend means for society.
But while an increase of interracial relationships does not directly result in a less racist community, they do force you to think about what race means to you.
As a mixed race Californian blogger so bluntly stated: “[Y]our society will be less racist if you accept interracial relationships not because interracial relationships perform that all-important deracifying function on society. Your society will be less racist if you accept interracial relationships because you are being less racist.”
An abundance of mixed race children will not create a community where race doesn’t matter, and that isn’t a bad thing. We shouldn’t dismiss someone’s ethnic background as irrelevant. But, we should also look at what shapes a person’s identity in addition to ethnicity.And that’ll help lead to an inclusive, diverse, vibrant community.
Posted by Eva Joseph at 8:24 AM
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Speaking at SFU in Jan/ 09

Book Smart vs. Street Smart: SFU Surrey & ICCC Vancouver host an event that will reveal the secrets
Many are anticipating the first ever ICCC Book Smart vs. Street Smart event on Wednesday, January 21st from 6pm - 8:30pm at SFU Surrey campus (Rm. SUR 2600). T
Book Smart vs. Street Smart panelists:
Pasha Bains - Founder of DRIVE athletic program Atish Ram - Producer of Zindagi TV Nav Chima - Manager, India Country Strategy at SFU Rahul Gill - Realtor/CEO of Herc’s Sports Nutrition Nick Noorani - Founder of Canadian Immigrant Magazine Sonia Virk - Co-founder and partner with Joomratty & Virk, Barristers & Solicitors Ken Herar - Freelance Journalist Saima Naz - Media Personality/Higher Grade Learning Centre Ashok Bhagnari - Z-Axis Consulting
Moderator: Simone Grewal from RJ1200
rina@iccc.org
The purpose of this event is to show the audience that success can be achieved in many ways. The panelists on both sides will share their stories and perspectives on how they have achieved success in their careers/industries. The panel discussion will address the relevance of post-graduate education, common myths and challenges, and the highly debated question “Is it about who you know, or what you know?”. If you are looking to succeed in your career, this is an event you don’t want to miss!

Rina Gill: Book Smart vs Street Smart...

Event Review: Book Smart v/s Street Smart
by Ken Herar
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 5:41 PM

Does it come down to who you know or what you know? This was one of the many thought-provoking questions panellists answered at the first "Book Smart vs. Street Smart" forums presented last week by the Indo-Canadian Chamber (ICCC) of Commerce at Simon Fraser University.
This enlightening conversation looked at the issue of whether is it academics or life skills that shape us. A group of eight panellists from diverse career backgrounds shared their views before a crowd of 80. Simone Grewal, radio host for RJ1200, was moderator for the two-hour discussion.
The crowd heard a wide range of inspiring stories and there seemed to be a strong connection between being an immigrant to Canada and becoming " Street Smart." The majority of panellist were immigrants and it was inspiring to see them reflect. Immigrants often come to Canada with nothing in their pockets and they have to know how to meet the requirements of a new land. Two of the panellists said that it was not solely their post secondary education that provided them with opportunities . . . it was their "street smart" skills. Another panellist shared his story how is father made him earn everything at a young age before coming to Canada four years ago. With this experience he was able to establish himself quickly. One panellist explained how she found university boring and eventually took some time away to establish her own business and found a career she is now enjoying. On the "book smart" side, participants heard about how one panellist’s educational qualifications weren't not recognized and she had to go back to school before she could practise law in Canada. Later, the panel fielded questions from the audience that touched on religious views, family support and does education really teach you about the core values of life? The discussion was insightful and challenging at times and everyone spoke passionately about their experiences. On the panel were Nick Noorani, Atish Ram, Nav Chima, Sonia Virk, Pasha Bains, Saima Naz, Ashok Bhagnari and myself. ICCC national director Rina Gill (rina@iccc.org) commented that the event was a huge success and the organization is planning on holding it on a quarterly basis. "This was a great opportunity for people in the South Asian community to connect with success stories," she said. At the end of the session it was obvious that book and street smarts are equally essential to today's job market. What you know and who you know are both contributing factors in finding job placement.

Letter to the Editor: Kusum Soni

Must be more inclusive
The TimesPublished: Tuesday, July 07, 2009
EDITOR, THE TIMES:

This is with reference to the column written by Ken Herar in his highly interesting series On The Edge in the June 30 Abbotsford-Mission Times:
Religion is one of the most vulnerable social segregations I have come across when Ken and I have worked together on the issues of cultural diversity and building an inclusive community.
The June 30 column - Places of worship demand respect - brought a severe regurgitation when it comes to a point of understanding that a community wants to bring in religious pursuits and rules of worship to solve social and criminal issues.
When the issues exist without any religious implications, the solutions have to come from within the society, no matter what colour, class, ethnicity and race you belong to or what is your mother tongue.
We cannot postpone issues to be solved until everyone learns to speak English and everyone adopts Christianity or Hinduism, Sikhism, Budhism, Judaism, Jainism and all "isms" of the world.
The situations are here in front of us and we have to solve them collectively, putting all our energies together now and now only.
Yes, Ken we are together! My newest effort these days is to introduce the program Safe Harbour-Respect For All, which I have started in Mission, through Mission Community Services Society.
The Safe Harbour program is funded by an Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC(AMSSA).
To know more about the activities of the multicultural department of Mission Community Services Society, please contact me through mcssmulticultural@shawbiz.ca, or at 604-826-3634.
Dr. Kusum Soni, Ph.D,
Multicultural Services Co-ordinator,
Mission Community Services Society
© Abbotsford Times 2009

Murder Capital of Canada?

We received our first entry in, Building an Inclusive, Diverse Community. Mike Westwick of Mission, who is a second year media/communication student at the University of Fraser Valley, became our first contestant. Westwick, an aspiring journalist, who works at Mission McDonalds, is excited about our diversity question: what have you done or what have you do to make our community inclusive. He said, “ I chose to talk about the importance of education in the promotion of community diversity. I have had the opportunity to be educated by family, friends, coaches, and teachers who have been involved with things that have promoted diversity within the cities of Maple Ridge, Mission, and Abbotsford. “ In recent years, I have taken part in projects that have helped promote diversity and community unity. These projects include volunteer swim coaching and involvement with the Special Olympics in Mission."
The duty of this exercise is to promote “citizenship”. Living in the greatest nation in the world, I strongly believe it is our ‘civic duty’ to continuing to make Canada a thriving nation. Citizenship empowers us to enjoy the many freedoms we celebrate daily that don’t exist around the globe. One of these is the freedom of speech giving everyone an equal voice to participate in our democracy. Canada was founded on the principles of diversity and we have reached a point in our young nations history that we can proud of our achievements as a nation. Coming from a black past when visible minorities and women weren’t even allowed to mark ‘X’ on the ballot demonstrates shows how far we have come as Canadians. Former United States President Bill Clinton, who recently assisted in the release of two American journalist from North Korea said: “ In a world darkened by ethnic conflicts that tear nations apart, Canada stands as a model of how people of different cultures can live and work together in peace, prosperity, and mutual respect”. The existence of our laws under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was to create a “Just Society” as stated by late prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau recognizing the importance of individual rights. Trudeau, one of founding fathers of multiculturalism in Canada encouraged ‘active citizenship’ and ‘building relationships’. He understood the mechanism and dynamics of a multicultural society under one unified nation. As he said: “ If Canada is to survive, it can only survive in mutual respect and in love for one another”.
Living in one of the most diverse regions of the nation and recently being acclaimed the “ Murder Capital of Canada” there is much work that remains in establishing this respect and love. Holding this unfortunate title should not deter us toward building an inclusive community. Fear creates isolation. Abbotsford is a fantastic community with an exceptional police department that is continuously working around the clock making our community safer every moment of each day. Abbotsford Mayor George Peary said: “ We want people who don’t know us to talk us. Our citizens don’t feel unsafe walking in the streets. We have been caught in a gang war in virtually all the homicides have been young men who have been associated with one or the other gangs. We just had a 5- day country fair (Agri Fair) where thousands of our citizens enjoyed the sights and sounds of the rides of the fair, rodeo, RCMP Musical Ride, fireworks and great food. And this weekend, I will participating in the Abbotsford International AirShow. This is the sort of event that characterizes our city. Our welcome mat is out”.
Abbotsford MLA and BC Attorney General Mike de Jong shared an interesting perspective: “ Our community has been attracting its share of publicity of late due to the activities and criminal behavior of a few. However, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that this remains a great community inhabited by generous law-abiding citizens.
“The same agency, Stats Canada, that tracks the nefarious activities of thugs and organized gangsters also repeatedly identifies Abbotsford as the most generous community in Canada. This generosity stretches across the community, involving people of all ethnicities: Mennonite, Dutch, South Asian and everyone between”.
This is a very safe community and, regardless of the recent negative publicity, I still consider Abbotsford to be the best place on earth, said de Jong”.
If you’re between the ages of (14 to 26) and want to celebrate your citizenship with your submission in 300 words or less; email me at the address below or drop of your entry at The Times Office on Peardonville.
--- Surjit Atwal and Dan Bue are organizing a forum on Crime Prevention for Youth and Parents. The date will be Sunday, August 16th from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. at the new Sikh Temple ( 31631 S. Fraser Way , Abbotsford).
KenHerar@gmail.com

Announcement on Speaking on Human Rights at UFV

January 26, 1999

Celebrating diversity theme of Human Rights in Our Communities week at UCFV
British Columbia’s population reflects a global diversity of cultures that is further enriched by differences in people’s abilities and lifestyles. Celebrating this diversity and difference is the purpose of Human Rights in Our Communities, February 8 to 12 at the University College of the Fraser Valley. The week will feature guest speakers and panel discussions on a variety of human rights issues, as well as film, music, and theatre presentations.
"The week is an opportunity to be aware of diversity in our communities, and the need to understand and honour that diversity," says Maggie Ross, coordinator of the Human Rights and Conflict Resolution office at UCFV. "To value human rights is to respect each of us."
The week will be launched with an opening ceremony on Monday, February 8, beginning at noon in the Great Hall on the Abbotsford campus. The event will feature Ross, musician Francis Xavier, Sto:lo First Nation elder Mary Uslick, and special guests.
Highlights through the week include a number of guest speakers and lectures. Civil liberties and APEC will be the subject of a presentation by Craig Jones, one of the students at the centre of the APEC protests at UBC and the subsequent inquiry, and currently a member of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association board.
Several panel discussions are planned on Wednesday, February 10, including a Baha’i workshop from 1 to 2 p.m., a presentation on labour rights for students from 1 to 3 p.m., and a discussion of human rights and the politics of food from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief Satsan (Herb George) will present a lecture Wednesday night on the Delgamuukw decision from his perspective as a key figure and strategist in the landmark case that went before the Supreme Court of Canada in December, 1997. The lecture will run from 7 to 9 p.m. in B101 on the Abbotsford campus.
On Friday, a panel featuring Mary Woo Sims, Chief Commissioner with the B.C. Human Rights Commission, student Christine Kokanie, and professor Ron Dart will speak on "Making a Difference."
According to Sims, although 74 percent of complaints received by the Commission in 1996-97 involved the workplace, British Columbians are becoming more proactive in dealing with human rights.
"Companies and trade unions are establishing discrimination and harassment policies, and more human rights matters being handled in-house," says Sims.
The three will explore a variety of questions around human rights, including Canada’s human rights record, and the role students can play in promoting human rights in Canada and elsewhere. This lecture will run from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in room A225 on the Abbotsford campus.

The final panel discussion will feature community development worker Satwinder Bains and newspaper columnist Ken Herar in a discussion about Indo-Canadian communities and their relationship with other cultural groups, on Friday from 2:30 to3:30 p.m. in room B101 at the Abbotsford campus..

Abby Police Board

Soon you will be seeing two new faces on the Abbotsford
Police Board as the search for a new Abbotsford Police Chief is currently
underway replacing retiring Chief Ian McKenzie. Jatinder Sidhu and Jon Eaton
both from Abbotsford will start their term as Police Board Commissioners on July
1st. Sidhu, a local businessman who has a long list of community involvement
moved to Abbotsford in 1977. He is excited about being selected to the board and
shared these comments with me on this opportunity. " I am content with my
business and I want to give back to the community. This is my passion and I
enjoy this and I want to make a difference for the next generation and be a liaison on the board between the Indo Canadian and the mainstream communities and encourage applicants to apply with the Abbotsford Police Department", said Sidhu. Eaton who moved to Abbotsford from
Alberta in 1997, is employed with RBC Dominion Securities as a Portfolio Manager
in Abbotsford. Eaton explains what got him interested in policing issues was
when he was living in Vancouver with two RCMP officers. After hearing many
stories and issues from his former roommates his interest and pursuit in
policing policy has always remained with him. "I am excited to be appointed to
the Abbotsford Police Board. It is an honor to be associated with a responsible,
responsive, and positive police force. Abbotsford is very fortunate to have such
a police force and I also strongly agree with the concept of Board independence
from Municipal council and the Provincial Government. This helps insulate the
Board from the partisan politics of both Municipal Councils and the Province.
But it also acknowledges the interests of both in the delivery of municipal
policing". said Eaton.
KenHerar@gmail.com

Monday, October 26, 2009

Khalistan: India must not Separate..

Article Added On: April 22, 2008 - about 1 year agoTitle: Most Indians have moved on Original URL: http://www.bclocalnews.com/opinion/17927864.htmlAuthor: Ken HerarPublication: Langley TimesPublication Date: April 20, 2008 - about 1 year agoFaith Groups: Sikh Themes: Religion and society, religion in the media

Abstract: Ken Herar, a columnist with the Abbotsford News, wishes everyone happy Vaisakhi, and suggests that Vaisakhi, the important celebration in the Sikh community, may one day become a statutory holiday in Canada.
As a diversity columnist, I would like to wish everyone a “Happy Vaisakhi.” It is an important celebration in the Sikh community, and people from all across Canada and the world celebrated in Surrey last weekend, and are doing the same in Vancouver this weekend.Vaisakhi marks the birth of the Sikh religion in 1699. Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Guru of the Sikhs, baptized five holy men (Phunj Piaray), which set the formal foundations of the religion. With record crowds last weekend of approximately 150,000 people under warm clear skies in Surrey, many commented that the event was well-organized despite some controversies surrounding the parade floats, which unfortunately overshadowed the success of the day.My voice mailbox was full from my non-Indian friends with messages like, “Ken, take me to the parade, I want some of that free East Indian food and sweets.”R. Paul Dhillon, editor of the South Asian Link newspaper in Surrey, who is well-versed on Indo-Canadian issues, shared his thoughts on the celebrations and some of the controversies.“It was an extremely large peaceful gathering of 125,000 to 150,000 people who participated or watched the procession of the parade. There were many booths and festivities along the parade route where spectators could visit,” said Dhillon.He felt the parade organizers were wrong-headed in displaying the photos of Sikh martyrs. “It is unnecessary to bring these politics into the event, in what should be a celebration of the Sikh faith. It is equally just as disturbing some media have blown this out of proportion.”Some parade floats displayed pictures of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s two most-trusted Sikh bodyguards, who gunned her down in 1984 as she walked to a morning interview in her compound. The theory behind her assassination was it was a revenge killing for attacks on the Golden Temple in Punjab, India. Indian police chased out Sikh?militants and terrorists who took refuge there.The Golden Temple is the holiest shrine for Sikhs. It is located in Amritsar, India. A few days before Gandhi’s death, she shared these thoughts with the media, “I am not interested in a long life. I am not afraid of these things. I don’t mind if my life goes in the service of this nation. If I die today, every drop of my blood will invigorate the nation.”The death of Gandhi sparked a civil war in India that would last for years, claiming thousands of lives. In life after death, Gandhi’s own words invigorated India, bringing Indian citizens from all religious backgrounds closer to a common understanding.Within modern India today, many do not want to return to the turbulent times of the 1980s. Sikhs who seek an independent homeland in India called Khalistan and show their colours at Vaisakhi parades in Canada are living in the past.I can confidently say that the majority of Sikhs throughout the world and in particular in India do not want an independent homeland, and want to be part of one thriving nation.Dhillon expresses similar thoughts. “The Khalistan movement is pretty much dead in Canada and India. A small radical element in the Sikh community continues to seek an independent Sikh homeland.”We must remember many Sikhs sacrificed their lives in helping free India from the British to become a sovereign nation in 1947.We don’t have to look very far to see that Sikhs have progressed to the highest political offices in India. Dr. Manmohen Singh, an economist, became the first Sikh prime minister of India in May, 2004.Last month, Singh issued a statement to many foreign countries abroad warning of possible Sikh militant uprisings in countries like United Kingdom, Germany, Pakistan and Canada, possibly disrupting the peace in India.Many of these culprits who caused disturbances throughout the 1980s have fled the nation, are still on the most wanted list in India and will be prosecuted.According to Professor Triloki Madan from the Institute of Delhi Economic Growth, the origins of Sikh nationalism go back to the mid-twentieth century.“Ever since the independence of India, there were political elements among the Sikhs who had this feeling that the Muslims had got a state (Pakistan), and the Hindus had what we call a secular state (India), so how about the Sikhs?”Vaisakhi is a time of bringing the community together and celebrating our religion, not making unnecessary political statements. Hey, it may someday become a statutory holiday in Canada.
KenHerar@gmail.com

God and Diversity

Diversity brings challenges that we can conquer

Ken Herar, Special to the TimesPublished: Friday, June 12, 2009

Looking at racism through different eyes can create a blurry painting.
An Indo-Canadian friend recently told me: "Whenever I come home to Abby from Vancouver, I can feel and see racism."
Speaking with some local Caucasian friends, they shared this perspective: "We don't see any divisions here."
Racism has always existed and will continue to have some form of underlying existence. I don't expect everyone to like each other, but hating people because of their religious beliefs or their poor English skills is unacceptable in my books.
I have never denied the fact that racism is multi-dimensional and that we need to educate people to be more accepting as Canadians.
Abbotsford is the third "most diverse city" in the country, according to Statistics Canada, behind Toronto and Vancouver.
Building an inclusive, diverse community is not an easy task. Abbotsford faces some special challenges from other Lower Mainland communities. And the top challenges are religious and language barriers.
I know some people who have moved away from our community because they felt they were being discriminated against on these grounds.
Abbotsford is home to several denominations of faith and churches do some fabulous work. I have enjoyed the privilege of attending several prayer services in many different churches and temples.
Opening my mind to the various interpretations of God has made me appreciate my own spirituality and existence in this world. But, how far can we go in our conversations about God?
Can we truly claim that one philosophy is superior to others without being degrading and offensive?
Unfortunately, this kind of rhetoric occurs here and we need to change how we communicate.
For the record, I respect all the teachings of God and I am not in the position to judge, but learn. Too often it is the other way around and secular divisions are established. To understand the relationship with God, we need to appreciate everything and everybody around us.
If you come across someone who is from a different religious background or a gay/lesbian lifestyle, show them respect. There are approximately 50 languages other than English spoken in Abbotsford homes.
I enjoy people-watching around town. Since we have many new Canadians from around the globe who can't speak fluent English, you may find yourself taking more time at the grocery store, at the bank or at the motor vehicle branch. Don't get frustrated and rude - take the time to understand the situation and assist them, if possible.
Remember that Abbotsford is still in many ways a rural farming town and attracts farmers to reside here.
To create a new vibrant Abbotsford culture, we need to be a little less opinionated and more patient with each other.
KenHerar@gmail.com

Diversity has its Challenges...

Diversity has its challenges.

There have been some horrible crimes committed in relation to domestic violence in the Lower Mainland. How can love turn into deadly hate?
Domestic violence is the ugly side of any relationship, and there are no excuses for it. The three victims unfortunately were from the South Asian community. One situation is still under police investigation, with circumstances unknown at this time.
My heart and prayers go out to the victims’ families. I toss and turn in my sleep, wondering how people can be so cruel to each other, when there are so many options available to deal with problems.
Challenging times create divisions in our society, taking away the things we all share and the respect we have for each other as human beings.
For example, whenever visible minorities make headlines for the wrong reasons, the stereotypical image creeps out of the closet. Many people have approached members of the Punjabi community about their dismay, and rightfully so. Some have made blunt remarks.
For example, one woman said to me “What’s wrong with your community?”
I replied, “Sorry. no comment.”
I felt like a criminal. Come on, folks. With a single brush you have labelled the whole community as killers or murderers.
The perception I gather from some people is that Punjabi Canadians are a violent bunch. I challenge you to find out the crime stats of each ethnic group, and then come and talk to me.
You’re in for a shocker. People can say whatever they want – it’s all repeated jargon and nothing that I haven’t encountered before.
I have desensitized myself to avoid these types of discussions, as it only leads to confrontations.
There are many fabulous Punjabi Canadians who are making Canada a better place. Not everyone is a wife beater or a gangster. Stereotyping the entire community is discriminatory.
I am not saying we don’t have issues within the Punjabi community, but many members are working hard to address these concerns. Violence against women is prohibited in the Sikh religion.
The large forum in Surrey, attended by many Indo-Canadian men and women, is an example of how the community feels about violence. Punjabi Canadians spoke passionately about their experiences and wanted to verbally express their concerns over these unfortunate events.
Punjabi radio stations were overwhelmed with callers, condemning these barbaric acts and calling for justice. Another display of solidarity is when it came to gang violence.
Punjabi Canadians united and provided leadership. They didn’t turn a blind eye or shy away from issues that needed attention. The Punjabi community is rapidly growing in B.C. and when a community grows this fast in a short period of time, the issue of crime is often a concern.
B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal said “It is important to note that during difficult times, society becomes a microscope. The Indo Canadian community overall has contributed a great deal to mainstream Canada. Spousal abuse exists in all mainstream communities.
“The forum in Surrey encouraged a lot of victims to come forward to talk about crimes that were committed on them. Women were encouraged to come forward. Let’s look at some of the causes. We have to overcome denial.”
Abbotsford school trustee Sat Gill said, “There is a lot of negativity that surround certain minority groups, especially the Indo-Canadian community. India is a diverse country and the people that immigrate from India are also quite diverse.
“The negative issues that have been recently highlighted are not culturally acceptable. There are many things that are being done to bring a positive outcome.”
I urge my Punjabi brothers and sisters to pay special attention. We are living in interesting times and under a visible microscope, which can have broader repercussions.
I ask my fellow Punjabis to follow Sikhism, through Guru Nanak’s message of honesty, peace and mediation. Violence is not part of Sikhism.
These are some of the challenges of living in a diverse society and I ask all Canadians to see through the clear glass with one vision. At the end of the day, we are all responsible for our own actions, no matter what colour or race you are from.
Diversity brings challenges to the table but the passion of the community will always prevail.
KenHerar@gmail.com
—–
By Ken HerarLangley Times (www.langleytimes.com)Ken Herar is a columnnist with the Abbotsford News.

Mission's Blackberry Kitchen..

I am going to share Mission’s best kept secret. Blackberry Kitchen, one of Mission’s finest family oriented restaurant offers quality service. How do you like your East Indian food? In Canadian standards they offer: mild, medium and hot. Indian Standards you can have it: no spice, subtly spiced and just right. Located at Heritage Park in the Norma Kenney House you can dine in or have it delivered to your door in Tiffins. They also do free delivery service from 11-3pm and special events. Open 7 days a week from 10 am to 9 pm they have a large selection of gourmet disks from breakfast to vegetarian or non-vegetarian meals during lunch or dinner. I decided to pay them a visit this week with a friend. With easy accessible parking and a short cemented walkway guiding you into the luxurious log building, the park will leave you searching for more. With the Grotto in the distance and the Mighty Fraser thundering below its a great place to enjoy an Indian meal. Guests have the choice of being seated inside or outside on their patio. We decided to stay inside for lunch and enjoy the fresh aroma smell of authentic East Indian meal being prepared. Owner Sat Grewal, opened the restaurant on May 1st of this year, with his wife Harjit. You may also recognize them as the owners of Coffee Blends on the Cedar Connector. My friend and I started off with a Corona watering down our throats. We opened our menu’s and the Grewal’s recommended a couple of choices. I shared my sensitivity with them: “I like chicken with some bread. But, please make it mild in Canadian standards.” They recommend one of their wraps for starters. I agreed to try the Tandoori Chicken Wrap, which is a popular lunch item. Was it ever filling and delicious. With rice, yogurt sauce and literally killer butter chicken sauce all wrapped up together, it hits the tender spot in the belly with no complaints. With a staff of 6-7 the Grewal’s have been extremely busy and running off their feet of late. During the recent, “Folk Fest”, which is held annually at the park, they served 800 plates for visitors and 350 for volunteers at their outside booth. The young couple moved to Mission six years ago, and love the local community atmosphere. Many coffee goers, who enjoyed their wraps at Coffee Blends, encouraged them to open an East Indian restaurant in town. The opportunity came up at the park when they were selected out of 10 applicants. Sat said, “ they liked our food, prices and service.” We were ready to order and I selected the Butter Chicken melted in creamy tomato sauce with naan bread. It comes with rice. My friend, decided on the Chilli Chicken with hot green chilies, green bell peppers, red onions and tomato’s in curry sauce. It also came with rice. Both of them came steaming in bowls. When you eat Indian food, do it so slowly. Otherwise, you may find yourself getting sick later. If you find yourself sweating. Don’t panic. It’s a natural reaction. The Butter Chicken is a fantastic meal at either lunch or dinner. With lots of fresh chunks of curried chicken, you won’t be disappointed. My friend described the Chilli Chicken as, “scrumptious, spicy and tender with a healthy portion of chicken that melts in your mouth.” If you have room at the end try their famous Blackberry Pie with ice cream, which were coming back for next time. As I was leaving out the door with my stomach stuffed, Sat said, " could you let people now, we offer coffee and lattes." It was time to go home and take a quick afternoon nap
KenHera@gmail.com

Improving Canada's Immigration System

By KEN HERARBlack PressSep 05 2006

Canada is known to have one of the best immigration models in the world because of its openness and fairness when dealing with applicants from abroad. Is the system working or does it need overhauling? The reports of fraudulent marriages have created red flags, and Canadians are asking for tighter regulations. Here's a typical scenario: A Canadian goes abroad and gets married and when their future partner arrives on Canadian soil the marriage dissolves. The issue of enforcement is difficult because the issue of trust is placed in the hands of people who are building a future together. When one partner turns love into opportunity it creates a mess in the system. I know the system can work because I have family and friends who have come through the immigration process who make a valuable contribution to Canada. There is a heavy burden placed on the sponsor if things don't work out as planned. Speaking with a few disenchanted people who have lived through this unfortunate circumstance supporting the person up to three years is an unjust policy that needs government reviewing. If individuals choose to go on government assistance the sponsor is fitted with the bill. A Vancouver-based Canadian Marriage Fraud Victim Society is petitioning Ottawa to change the policy if marriages fails before three years that the immigrants be deported back to their country of origin. I totally agree. We don't want foreigners going underground. Many countries have adopted such a policy like United States, Britain Australia and New Zealand. However, some Canadian politicians disagree stating this is not the Canadian way. Abbotsford MP Ed Fast said, "we had approximately 800,000 immigration applications in process at the time of the 2005 election. At the same time, approximately 35,000 illegal residents disappeared into the woodwork. When you combine this with the problem of "marriages of convenience" and the work necessary to determine the legitimacy of spousal re-unification applications, you can see that we have significant problems to overcome." Fast said it is "also clear that the large majority of immigration and visa applications are honest and trustworthy. Unfortunately, the bad apples in the barrel have made it much more difficult for both government staff who process these applications, and the people who patiently wait in line to have their applications processed." "Staff are conducting more rigorous investigations of marriage-related applications, and where red flags appear, applicants will likely be rejected. Ultimately, the person best able to judge the intentions of the applicant spouse is the sponsoring spouse." Fast's office is dealing with a file of an individual who is going abroad to get married for the third time. Unfortunately, most of these cases are occurring from the region of Punjab, India. Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission MP Randy Kamp said: "Perhaps the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration should review the Immigration Act to determine whether the legislation should be amended to include additional deterrents to discourage applicants from engaging in marriages of convenience in order to obtain legal status in Canada. While the issues surrounding marriage and immigration are complex, that should not prevent us from trying to improve the system in order to protect innocent victims of immigration fraud." With all the heightened security and red flags appearing, visa applicants are being screened much more carefully. If there is any doubt by immigration officials that a person may not return to their country of origin after their visit they will declined entry into Canada. Fast explains that when someone applies for a visa, the processing officer takes into account many considerations, chief of which is whether the individual is likely to return to his/her home country. "In determining eligibility for a visa, they will look at the relationship between the sponsor and the applicant, the financial circumstances and purpose of the visit." Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Randy Hawes disagrees with this over screening of visa applicants. He said that over the past five years "my office has written letters of reference on many occasions for Indo-Canadian Mission residents who have family attempting to visit from India. They have been declined visitor's visas in the Canadian Consulate offices in India." "We have experienced fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters in India who have been denied permission to attend weddings or funerals in Canada because someone in the Consulate seems to believe there is a risk that they will not return to India at the expiration of their visa. In many cases the screening officers within the Canadian High Commissioner's office ignore the guarantees put forward by long time and respected community members and the reference letters written to support the visa application." Hawes said, "We have been informed that there have been some incidences of visitors who have not returned and have disappeared within Canada. Based on the behaviour of a few, we seem to have developed a national policy to apply against the many. We have had absolutely no similar requests for reference letters from Caucasian residents. It appears that Canadian consulates in other parts of the world do not see the same risks and screening is somehow much less stringent. It is difficult to conclude that the current policy is based upon anything but racial prejudice." Along with these concerns the Canadian immigration system has changed dramatically over the decades from European to Asian markets which has left some Canadians unhappy. For example, in 1968, the top four countries that had the highest number of citizens come to Canada were: United Kingdom, Italy, United States and Germany have been replaced. In 2001 China, India, Pakistan and Philippines topped the list. Regardless, where you are from immigration makes Canada strong. Safeguards need to be in place to protect Canadians from foreigners who want to abuse the system. The current system fails to do so. KenHerar@yahoo.ca
KenHerar@gmail.com

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Responding to a Racist..

Just as I was starting to forget about the last racist e-mail, another one unfortunately appeared.
I was quite disturbed to read the language of hate. I thought we ended this discussion and were prepared to move on to other worthy topics.
This latest letter definitely deserves a response. I feel it is important to expose issues of this kind because we cannot hide the fact that racism still exists in our communities. Sweeping it under the rug won't do it justice.
For the record, this will be the final time I will be entertaining any comments of this nature. So if you're looking to get your hate message published, you're knocking on the wrong door.
This latest individual, who claims he is originally from India but not from Punjab, goes on a rampage of assaulting Sikhs.
I have censored many parts of his letter and here are just some of his mindless thoughts:
". . . Week after week, you trot out the same Sikh stories. Tell me, do the Sikhs pay you to do this? You are like their mouthpiece.
"Come Christmas and you trot out one column about your white friends. Sikhs should make an effort to assimilate into this country and get out of the ghetto mentality.
"You just have to take a look into the Criminal Code of Canada and see the number of Sikhs who figure in it. Stop brainwashing your kids into thinking that the Komagatu Maru was somehow Canadians' fault and the Sikhs were entitled to be here. Be thankful they let you stay - the Americans will not tolerate this diversity nonsense."
First mistake: I don't trot out the same old Sikh stories every week. I believe in balance and have proven that over my 14 years writing this column in Abbotsford-Mission.
Second mistake: Sikhs don't pay me for this and I am not their mouthpiece. I am paid by the Abbotsford-Mission Times. Just so you know, I was offered to write a column for another newspaper that wanted me to focus on Indo-Canadian issues only. I turned it down. I wanted something more inclusive and community-oriented.
Third mistake: Sikhs have already assimilated into our country. Travel across Canada and take a look around.
Fourth mistake: The last time I went to teach tennis at a prison, Sikhs appeared to be the minority in the criminal justice system.
Fifth mistake: I never brainwashed children about the 1914 Komagatu Maru incident and never blamed anyone for it.
Sixth mistake: I am thankful Canada let me stay - especially since I was born here.
Hey, if you focus on the negative, you'll find the negative.
Building an inclusive, diverse community takes inspirational leadership and as a community newspaper we are taking steps toward establishing this everyday.
The Abbotsford-Mission Times, myself and editor-friend Gord Kurenoff are presenting "Building an Inclusive, Diverse Community."
If you are between the ages of 14 to 26 and enjoy writing, we would like to hear from you. Your answer should be 300 words or less and should answer the following:
"What have you done or what can you do to make our community more inclusive?"
The deadline will be early September. Responses can be e-mailed to me at kherar@gmail.com, to Gord at gkurenoff@abbotsfordtimes.com, or dropped off at the Times office on Peardonville Road.

[Columnist Ken Herar writes for the Abbotsford-Mission Times and the Mission Extra. To comment, e-mail him at KenHerar@gmail.com.]
July 4, 2009

Talk at Damesh Students..

What would you do if you weren’t a writer? “Probably, be a teacher. I am actually a teacher at heart”, I replied. “What is the best part of being a writer? It’s meeting people in the community and that where some of my best ideas are created”, I replied. These were some of the questions and my responses from the speaking session editor Gord Kurenoff and I had at the Dasmesh Punjabi School on Tuesday. We were both there to promote our Times Building an Inclusive, Diverse Community essay contest pitch to students. What an inspiring morning we had meeting entertaining hundreds of well-mannered kids and their excellent teachers. I arrived a bit early than expected and waited for Kurenoff to drive up. He explained he was caught up in few road construction sites. As I stood outside the main entrance in the frosty morning air with Vice principal Jaspal Dhaliwal and watched the yellow school buses roll up almost every student greeted me with a big smile or “ Hello Sir” as they stepped foot on there school property. They knew I was there guest for the day and made me feel welcome. The discipline and courtesy these kids had all dressed up in their school uniforms was well beyond their years. Actually, I have never seen an entire school that all looked like one large team. Before, our session with the kids we had the opportunity to sit down with Principal Sulochana Chand, founder and now retired Principal Dalip Gill and School Administrator Sandeep Lidder. Mr Gill, who started the school in early 80’s said, “ we have a multicultural teaching staff and just hired our first Metis instructor at our school.”
With our heads covered out of respect it was time to go upstairs to join in the morning assembly and pay our respects to the Guru Granth Sahib were intermediate students were seated. Kurenoff, who was introduced first and shared his award winning story of how nobody would pick Kevin to be on their hockey team. Kevin, who had a disability, was left out of many games because they thought he couldn’t play. When, Kurenoff’s mother found out she was very unhappy with our Gordo. He later picked Kevin to be on his team, he proved them all wrong. As their goalie, he stopped everything from entry the net.
I shared some similar ideas with the students that many times in life we are often told that we are not good enough and face the rejection slip. This is all part of the game of life I told them and it is important how we move forward and treat others. There is no better feeling when you can prove people wrong. I also shared that some people will not like me because of my skin color or my ethnicity. I am ok with that. We cannot fight with everyone. I encouraged them to volunteer and integrate in the community and be good role models. In my losing remarks I said, “ As members of the Indo Canadian community we have the most to gain, but also the most to lose”.
They are actually 7 days remaining for the essay contest deadline. Again, the question is, “what have you done or what can you do to make our community inclusive?” Most of the entries have currently come from Mission. You must be from the ages of (14 to 26) and all responses must be 300 words or less. Submissions can be emailed to me at the address below or dropped at the Times office.
I also shared that some people will not like me because of my skin colour or my ethnicity. I am OK with that - we cannot fight with everyone.
I encouraged the students to volunteer and integrate in the community and be good role models.
As for the contest, there are seven days left before the entry deadline. Again, the question is: What have you done or what can you do to make our community inclusive?
You must be between 14 to 26 years of age to enter and all responses must be 300 words or less. Entries can be e-mailed to me.
- Award-winning columnist Ken (Kulwinder) Herar writes for the Abbotsford-Mission Times. E-mail him at Kenherar@gmail.com.
© Abbotsford Times 2009

East versus west..

'East versus west' stuff shows ignorance
Ken Herar, Special to the TimesPublished: Friday, July 31, 2009

Iwas walking down a corridor recently when my roaming eyes caught an interesting poster on the wall - Cultural differences should not separate us from each other, but rather cultural diversity brings a collective strength that can benefit all of humanity.
Due to a possible memory lapse, I grabbed a piece of paper and jotted it down. The Abbotsford-Mission Times is offering this collective strength to our young readers (aged 14 to 26).
The Times is presenting: Building an Inclusive, Diverse Community, giving our youth an opportunity to express their opinion how we can make our community more inclusive. Or, are we are already inclusive?
Unfortunately, I still witness challenges in how we see and speak to each other. For example, someone who I know recently said to me all the problems seem to occur on the "west side" of Abbotsford.
He added there is a small minority in the community (Indo-Canadian) who are causing these problems.
I was just waiting for him to say: "Ken, I am not racist." It's funny how that always seems to follow.
The ones who insist they are not racist, are often the ones who are. He later said he resides on the more peaceful "east side" of Abbotsford.
It's always a small minority in every community group that ruins it for the rest. This is not the first time I have heard such a stupid remark.
To add further insult to injury, to automatically assume that all the crime occurs where the "brown people" live is disturbing.
To build and improve this collective strength, we need to stop geographically dividing east versus west. To put the record straight, Indo-Canadians live in all parts of Abbotsford, not just the west.
This topic would be a fantastic submission for someone to explore.
Our question again: "What have you done or what can you do to make our community inclusive?"
As promised last week, here are some excellent examples toward building an inclusive environment:
- The Punjabi Patrika, also known as "Abbotsford's third newspaper," is going weekly.
The unveiling will take place on Aug. 29 at publisher Andy Sidhu's residence from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. A garden party is being held to mark this special occasion.
The first edition is being sold and all monies raised will be going to the Abbotsford Police Foundation. The Patrika will be celebrating 13 years this October.
- The Abbotsford Police Department is reminding citizens that the Chief Constable's diversity advisory committee is always seeking input from citizens who are interested in diversity.
For more info, contact Const. Wanda Lane at 604-864-4776.
- Award-winning columnist Ken Herar writes for the Abbotsford-Mission Times and the Mission Extra. E-mail him at KenHerar@gmail.com.

Editor Gord Kurenoff column on Dasmesh Punjabi School..

Unity comes in all colours
Gord Kurenoff, The TimesPublished: Friday, October 23, 2009

"We may have come over on different ships, but we're all in the same boat now."
- Whitney Young, Jr.
It is a lively Tuesday morning in Matsqui Village as parents manoeuvre minivans through a bustling parking lot at Dasmesh Punjabi School.
Principal Sulochana Chand stands outside the Riverside Street school offering big smiles and greetings to everyone who makes eye contact with her.
Adrenalized students, in matching sweaters and slacks, buzz by their principal as another day of learning begins for the 580 enrolled in the kindergarten-to-Grade 10 private school.
The scheduled morning lesson is all about tolerance and diversity, and the guest speakers are Times' columnist Ken Herar and yours truly. But the first challenge is figuring how to make a quasi-turban out of a blue kerchief, and the second to hide the small "air conditioning" holes in your socks when asked to remove footwear.
The 40-year-old Herar, a local diversity award winner and the best-ever tennis player to call Mission home, is passionate about eliminating racism, promoting diversity and making people understand that "brown and white" can thrive together.
I, on the other hand, am trying to not look like a stagecoach robber as the kerchief keeps slipping over my eyes.
School administrator Sandeep Lidder, easily mistaken for one of those Bollywood goddesses, says "everyone" has that problem at first. Methinks this is how Captain America, The Green Hornet, Robin, X-Men and Flash Gordon got started, but I digress.
There is a large sign inside the school's Worship Room. It says "Recognize the whole human race as one." Nobody in this gathering has a problem with me being white. And I wonder, who really needs the lesson of tolerance?
In my Caucasian, born-in-Canada world, I have watched as we "white guys" screamed about allowing turbans in the RCMP, sending gangsters "back to where they came from," ceremonial daggers, bicycle helmets, affirmative action hiring, negative stereotypes, you name it. We have had prouder moments in this country.
Herar, embraced by many in the South Asian community for his media involvement, and nicknamed "Air India" by his basketball buddies, shares an e-mail from a family that claims to be moving away from Abbotsford because "there are too many East Indians."
The usually cool columnist admits this makes his blood boil, especially when nobody says they're leaving the area because of the white Bacon brothers or the white gangsters or the white drug dealers or the white pimps or the white thieves.
Dr. Dalip Singh Gill, a brilliant and kind man who founded this school in 1985 citing a need to recognize all human beings as equal, says he has seen some progress here, but notes there are many challenges ahead.
The school, which has been in Matsqui Village since expanding in 2005, now has a staff of 40 that includes a teacher from Hong Kong, several Caucasians and one M├ętis educator. It promotes a lifestyle free from smoking, drinking, drugs and gangs.
Their objective is to integrate Sikh studies with the B.C. education curriculum. And their successful sports teams, nicknamed the Falcons, have been praised for sportsmanship and class.

Up close and impersonal with intruder..

Up close and impersonal with intruder
Ken Herar, The TimesPublished: Friday, July 17, 2009

Earlier this week, I probably encountered the most dangerous situation in my life. Even writing about it kind of creeps me out.
It began on a peaceful Sunday with a gym workout around 9 p.m. and basketball an hour later at the Abbotsford Recreation Centre.
Yes folks, Air India was in full flight and even nailed a few three-pointers from downtown - this old dog can still play with some of the best local talent.
The big hand struck midnight and it was time to head home back to beautiful Mission. I don't know what it was, but I was anxious to get home.
It started to pour like crazy as I was coming over the Mission Bridge - thunder, some lightning; it basically was the perfect storm.
A short time later, as I pulled into my driveway and started to walk to the rear of the home, I heard movements in my backyard. I paused for a few moments because it was extremely dark and wanted to make sure it was safe to enter.
The neighbour's dogs were barking. I figured it might have been a cat making its way home, but my guard was up and I decided to proceed with caution. I made it inside with no issues.
The first thing I did was head straight to the laundry basket and get rid of my sweaty clothes. With both cars in the driveway and a few lights switched on, I felt safe. If you don't feel secure at home where else can you?
With my laptop turned on I decided to spend some time checking my e-mail downstairs before I headed to the main floor. My instincts where telling me something just wasn't right.
I was going to head to the shower, but decided to wait. Bringing my laptop upstairs, I decided to sit in the living room for a few minutes. Enjoying my last few minutes before heading to the sack, I heard the screen door in the kitchen opening. I thought it was the wind blowing it open. I heard it again and it just didn't sound right.
So, I decided to take a look and head to the kitchen in a tactical approach you see on CSI! I moved slowly and methodically around the fridge and noticed a person on my rear patio.
One, possibly two, scumbags trying to break into my house at 1 a.m. via the kitchen door.
We were face-to-face with only the door protecting him and me. He saw me and took off like a speeding bullet. I was stunned; so was he.
It took a few minutes for me to gather my composure and decided to give chase. I realize the police don't recommend this, but I was furious. I took the car and went a few blocks down the street to locate these thieves. But I couldn't locate these would-be criminals.
I called 9-1-1 and a few Mission RCMP cruisers were dispatched to the house. From what I could gather, the thieves were probably only minutes away from gaining entry into my home. I believe someone was looking out for me.
Who knows what the outcome could have been if I had been in the shower and him in the house. I made the correct decision to be upstairs at that precise moment. Sometimes it's good to follow your gut.
- On a happier note, the Abbotsford- Mission Times is presenting: Building an Inclusive, Diverse Community.
KenHerar@gmail.com

The Amazing Life of Jim Braich..






Jim Braich lived a big, honest life
Ken Herar, The Times
Published: Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"My brother need not be idolized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man."
Those were the emotional words of Kenny Braich on Saturday, remembering his older brother Jim at the Clarke Theatre in Mission.
In a packed auditorium, hundreds came out to pay final respects and honour the life and memory of Jim Braich, who passed away last week after battling leukemia for more than eight years.
Braich, who was born and raised in Mission, is the son of logging pioneer Herman Braich Sr.
The former Roadrunner basketball star graduated from Mission Secondary in 1979 and later attended UBC for two years on a basketball scholarship.
Known provincewide for his outstanding basketball skills, Braich received many honours including the most valuable player award at the Fraser Valley Championship in his high school graduating year.
Mission Secondary in 1981 was ranked No. 1 in the province with an unbeaten record. Kenny and Bobby Braich played on the team, while Jimmy was one of the coaches.
While setting records as a player, he was just as legendary off the court and admired by many in the community for his leadership capabilities and soft-spoken, humble nature.
As Kenny shared with me a few days before the service: "Jim knew how to win, but more importantly, he was as graceful in losing as winning, bringing the best out in everyone."
When diagnosed in early 2001, he was only given months to survive. Through his strong will and determination, Braich became an example how life can be prolonged under these difficult circumstances even when heavy odds are placed against you. Kenny, also shared that Jim could be the second longest surviving victim with this particular disease.
Managing Herman Sawmills Ltd. from 1981 to 1994, and co-founding the Bridgewater Group after his father's death, Braich earned a reputation of an honest, knowledgeable and dependable businessman.
Like his father and brothers, no day was better spent than at the races. Braich successfully raced horses across North America to many victories, including the B.C. Derby in successive years. His crowning achievement was campaigning the Canadian Sovereign Award winner Bolulight to victory in the final running at Longacres Park racetrack of the Pacific Northwest's most regal race.
Former Mission Secondary basketball coach Brian Fichter, who brought the Roadrunners to several triple-A B.C. high school championships at the PNE Agrodome throughout the 1970s and '80s, remembered Braich in a touching speech.
"Jim was always an inspiration to everyone and especially to his teammates. He was a natural leader and will be sadly missed," said Fichter.
There hasn't been a family in B.C. basketball history that has touched the game like the Braich family. Each brother (Erwin, Herman Jr., Jimmy, Bobby and Kenny) set scoring and assist records, which still stand today.
Two brothers were named to the high school all-star team at the B.C. championship tourney.
During their glory days, they and their teammates elevated basketball to heights never seen before in Mission.
Younger brother Bobby Braich shared in his eulogy that good genetics played an instrumental role in all of their sporting lives and recalls their competitive spirit as children and how scores were settled at the dinner table or on the street over their favourite hockey and baseball teams.
Bobby recalled the time how he came off the bench as a Grade 10 player to replace Jimmy who was in foul trouble in a crucial game at the Fraser Valley championship tourney.
Bobby was "very nervous" but he hit his first two shots and Jimmy gave him a thumbs up from the bench, a signal he never forgot.
Kenny, who was the master of ceremonies on Saturday, told the audience that right until the final hours before Jim's passing at the hospital, he still greeted everyone with dignity and respect.
"That's who my brother was."
KenHerar@gmail.com
© Abbotsford Times 2009

Letter to the Editor..

Column writer misses the mark on ignorance and stat holidays
The TimesPublished: Tuesday, October 20, 2009
EDITOR, THE TIMES:

Re: Ken Herar's Friday column, Ideas for making area more inclusive:
I read Herar's column with interest, but I must take issue with a couple points.
First of all "ignorance" is a lack of knowledge. You may find it offensive that a person would choose to leave Abbotsford because of the racial makeup of their neighborhood, but it doesn't fit the definition of "ignorant."
Secondly, regarding the statutory holidays. In the fall we currently have Thanksgiving. The other stat in the fall is Remembrance Day when we honour my father, uncles and grandfathers - and maybe some of your relatives - who fought and gave up their lives for the freedoms we have in this country.
The freedom to choose where we live and even to tell people why we make our decisions. Replacing these stats would be very unpopular.
Roy Miller,
Abbotsford
© Abbotsford Times 2009

Letter to the Editor...

'Event day' concept just may unite people and chop crime
The TimesPublished: Friday, July 31, 2009
EDITOR, THE TIMES:

Re: Ken Herar's column last Friday entitled Inspiring others to succeed:
Personally, I find it difficult to get friends out and do things here in Abbotsford.
Maybe there's a mild lack of interesting things to do that's free locally. So when I think about making a community more inclusive, I get a gut feeling that initially it'll only apply to those with common interests.
And if we focus along those lines, we can ease into some ideas so that they'll make sense to broader groups over time and bring them together and possibly have them share new experiences and ideas with each other.
With the proverbial ball rolling, there is potential for the social glue to bond and become larger as a source for interests and passions are offered up and explored.
So getting to the point finally, I would really want to be a part of would be an "event day" down at Mill Lake where many local bands can come out to play free and activities such as volleyball, bocce, badminton, etc., could be setup by volunteers.
Those who aren't able to gather enough friends together can come down and enjoy a game with some new people.
Festivals and celebrations throughout history have always brought people together. Perhaps it's time to get more of that within Abbotsford and on a regular basis (one day a week). Who knows, it might be the No. 1 way to reduce crime in Abbotsford, seeing as most drug use and crime are first introduced out of boredom.
I can't think of any strong inclusive communities that are without regular and constant festivals.
Steve Vyas,
Abbotsford
© Abbotsford Times 2009

A Much Needed Break..

Finding time to serve up a needed break
Ken Herar, The TimesPublished: Friday, July 10, 2009

Ido get the rare opportunity to write about my pain and glory. So enjoy it!
As you may have noticed, my past few months have been busy attending several social gatherings around town.
It's been a go-go-go pace and unfortunately it doesn't get any slower throughout the summer. I decided to spend some much needed R&R in front of my computer and invite you into Ken's revolving world.
It's time to grab that rusty Wilson tennis racquet out of that stinky gym bag and show those tennis hacks a life-altering lesson from "rally in the Valley."
That is right, folks. I was known throughout my career as a retriever or human backboard. Getting countless tennis balls returned that dared to cross the net. Maybe even hitting a few blustering backhands stinging my opponent's ego from time to time would get me a love game.
That was a few years ago and things have changed slightly. It seems like the green fuzzy balls are buzzing passed my racquet on more than one occasion. Can someone please remind me what winning was like?
An older player once shared with me several years ago: "Enjoy the time you have because it won't last forever." This message means more to me than ever before.
Organizing local tennis tournaments for 15 years and coaching for many more developed me as a player and, more importantly, as an individual.
As a young man it taught me that through sports you meet other inspiring athletes and community members. Until, I was faced with embarrassing headlines like Organizer Wins Own Tournament, written by a young sports editor who grew up to be this paper's editor!
Witnessing Roger Federer claim his 15th Grand Slam Title at Wimbledon last week brought back some desire to hit the courts again.
Being sidelined with a few injuries is not fun and even getting out of bed is a prized day. Not to find excuses, but you need to put a strong effort into your practises and how you performed yesterday doesn't reflect your abilities now.
I am sure athletes can relate to being the top of your game one day to "cya" the next. Sure, it's emotional, but the fact of the matter is, it will eventually happen to everyone. Every dog has its day. Yes, even Federer will face his day.
How you deal with the aging factor in sports is a reflection on your soul. Many athletes walk away from the game and never look back. I find this to be a slap in the face to the many who sacrificed their time to develop them.
If you find yourself headed toward the sidelines of your athletic career get on the bench and start coaching. Inspire young athletes to achieve and help them reach their full potential. Coaching is satisfying and rewarding. There is no better victory in any sport than being behind an athlete achieving his or her goals.
KenHerar@gmail.com

On the road with Gord Kurenoff

Talking trash, diversity part of a busy weekend
Ken Herar, The TimesPublished: Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bright and early this morning, Abbotsford-Mission Times editor Gord Kurenoff and I took our Building an Inclusive, Diverse Community essay contest on the road.
The first stop was at Dasmesh Punjabi School located in Matsqui Village. I have had the privilege of speaking to students and staff there for the past two years and I am always impressed with their work.
I was also invited to speak at a Mission Secondary socials 10 class by teacher Ed Sward, where he had a pile of entries for me. His entire class submitted entries for our contest and Mission has officially taken over the lead. It's looking like another Mission sweep!
A week ago, I briefly discussed that we all have to take responsibility for our actions and stop throwing our garbage on local streets.
I am starting to realize its no different when readers throw "trash-talking" responses into my e-mail bin and make assumptions that South Asians are the only people who litter in our community.
"For all I know where they come from it is normal and accepted to throw garbage from the window of their car," one reader wrote.
Hogwash. Obviously, this individual doesn't get out much. He suggested I put more balance in my approach and coverage.
Specifically targeting South Asians as the sole culprits of harming the environment is utter nonsense and factually not accurate. I have witnessed all kinds of people tossing things from their vehicles and you cannot point the finger at just one group.
He figured we will again see more garbage on our streets during the Diwali celebrations. What this individual fails to acknowledge is we witness the same kind of behaviour - or maybe even worse - with many non-South Asian folks during Halloween.
What I personally dislike are those smokers who throw cigarettes out of their windows, especially when there are cars directly behind them.
Anyways, enough of this rhetorical nonsense and on to real issues.
Man, was it ever a busy weekend. I attended two Diwali events on Friday and was invited to another on Saturday. The Diwali celebration in Mission on Friday night was a huge event with a packed audience at West Heights school.
There were classrooms full of activities for children to participate in (henna, diya painting and crafts). I was really impressed how young kids dressed up and were running around and enjoying themselves. The Mission Sikh Temple donated food.
Later that evening, I attended Diversity Festival 2009 at Northview Church in Abbotsford. It was the first of its kind sponsored by the Centre for Multi-Cultural Ministries. The evening was filled with entertainment and tasty food from five different countries.
Diwali was also celebrated this week at Parliament Hill in Ottawa and Prime Minister Stephen Harper had these comments after lighting the traditional lamp: "The growing Indo-Canadian community is at the forefront of Canada's quest to build an even better country for generations to come."
The Times Oct 30th essay deadline is almost here. The question is: "What have you done or what can you do to build an inclusive community?"
Responses must be 300 words or less and can be e-mailed to me or dropped at the Times office.
- Award-winning columnist Ken (Kulwinder) Herar writes for the Abbotsford-Mission Times. E-mail him at Kenherar@gmail.com.

Call me Kulwinder...please

All Punjabi names have deep meaning, purpose
Ken (Kulwinder) Herar, The Times Published: Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I have been struggling with this "identity issue" for decades. I finally decided to come out of the closet and set the record straight - for as crazy as this sounds, it's my name.
Since I was a toddler and went to school, I was known as "Ken" or "Kenny" - both fabulous English names. Obviously I didn't have a choice at birth!
I come from a generation where parents wanted their children to have English nicknames rather than traditional Indian names.
The main reason, honestly, is that many names are just difficult to pronounce for English-speaking folks. They also wanted their children to feel accepted and not teased at school. A major sacrifice to make just to feel part of a western society.
Sure, I have been ridiculed by friends like, "where's your Barbie doll, Ken?" Or, referred to as the Irish beer "Kilkenny."
And if I am not mistaken, there is a T-shirt that reads, "I killed Kenny." I sympathize with all the Kennys and Kens out there.
For the longest time, I didn't like people referring to me by my traditional Indian name, which was given to me by my grandparents. Only a few close people know my real name.
When I was surfing through my legal documents, passports, birth certificate and driver's licence, one thing became very clear: I am legally known as someone else!
This internal struggle on who I am "pretending" to be and who I really am is going to have some closure.
For years, I was ashamed of my traditional Indian name and ran away from my real identity. I have come to the realization you don't have to change your name to be part of an "inclusive Canada."
My name defines my soul and my heritage and nothing can ever replace that. Even when people say, "you need to be Canadian."
The funny thing is many of us already have changed our names. I respect people who keep their vibrant traditional names in Canada.
I know one thing, if my parents stayed in India, I wouldn't have imagined having a name like Ken.
Are you ready to hear my real name? A little drum roll, please. My Punjabi name is Kulwinder. Isn't that a beautiful name? I like it and it's universal. Males and females can share this name.
In the Punjabi culture when children are born the first initial is picked by the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Scriptures), which has 1,430 pages.
The holy priest closes the scriptures and then opens it and the first initial that appears on the left page is the beginning of the newborn's name.
From there the family decides on what the name should be.
My initial came up as the letter "K." Not all Sikh families practise this formula. As I discovered, there is deep meaning to Punjabi names and a purpose.
For example, Kulwinder is broken into two separate meanings as described by a friend. "Kul" means family or ancestry. "Winder" refers to a shining star.
I encourage people to call me Ken or Kulwinder. I will not be offended by either. But, just not "Kenny," please. It's too boyish for me.
If you look closely I have added both names into my introductory head as a reminder of our diversity. Let's celebrate what has been given or passed down to us!
KenHerar@gmail.com

More AbbyFest..

Sharing the love, diversity at AbbyFest
Kulwinder Herar, The TimesPublished: Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Exciting, colourful, inclusive and good friendly family atmosphere," were the words of volunteer Cindy Richard - or respectfully known as an AbbyFest ambassador - describing the second annual Abbotsford Multicultural Festival at the Entertainment and Sports Centre on Saturday.
The day's events got underway around 10 a.m. with the opening ceremonies that included a welcome theme performance by Langley Fine Arts School.
An impressive Parade of Nations followed, led by the Elders of the First Nations, Police Honour Guard, two drummers, local dignitaries and 35 flags carried by children and adults dressed in various national costumes representing the communities in the Fraser Valley.
Organizer Musleh Hakki, who parachuted with Abbotsford MP Ed Fast on Canada Day to promote this event said: "I was very happy on how the day went and lots of people came with positive feedback.
"People highlighted the fact it is positive to interact with others."
Hakki addressed three powerful ideas in his welcoming address: Love, knowledge and courage. He reminded everyone that it takes courage to use knowledge in a positive manner.
There were many messages from political leaders shared with the crowd, including ones from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, B.C. Lt. Gov. Steven Point, Premier Gordon Campbell, B.C. Attorney General Mike de Jong and Mission Mayor James Atebe
They were five master of ceremonies who took the stage at different times throughout the day: Balan Moorthy, Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich, Milt Walker, Mayor George Peary and local city manager Frank Pizzuto.
Some of the morning entertainment included: Spanish Gypse dancing from Scirocco, Bhangra dancing from Bhangra Beat Academy and Scottish dancing from Inverglen. An amazing 27 performances followed in the afternoon.
I had my running shoes on and visited some of the 72 booths on the hardwood floor protecting the ice surface below, which was covered overnight following the Abbotsford Heat's pre-season hockey win against the Manitoba Moose.
My first stop was at the Fraser Valley Chinese Canadian Association booth where I met Daniel Wang, the president of the association. He said they hold approximately four to five local events a year and are "looking to expand in the area."
My second stop was a short distance away at the Conseil Scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, where I meet Principal Fariba Daragahi, who heads the Ecole des Deux-Rives in Mission.
Then I hopped next door to the B.C.Muslim Association (BCMA) Abbotsford Chapter to see some beautiful girls painting their hands also known as "Henna."
The painting exercise is used for variety of occasions including weddings, festivals and celebrations. I meet Sidrah Ahmad, who explained the Abbotsford chapter is quickly growing and more Muslim families are coming out to the Fraser Valley.
I made a quick visit at the Bahi Faith table and shook hands with Harold Rosen and Cenie Lucas. Across the isle, was the Early Childhood Committee for South Asians, where I met Monica Grover and Pavan and picked up some information on local support groups.
KenHerar@gmail.com