Monday, May 24, 2010

A career change and thoughts on cops

By Ken Herar, The Times May 21, 2010

Let's just say it doesn't surprise me to hear that 60 percent of RCMP employees in B.C. have considered quitting their job over the past six months, according to an internal staff survey obtained by the Vancouver Sun.

The survey found one in four B.C. RCMP employees had been "verbally harassed or tormented" within the past year, with the most common source being harassment with their immediate supervisor.

The RCMP shouldn't feel so bad, because they are not the only organization facing an upward battle when it comes to disgruntled employees.

The workplace environment is changing quickly in almost every sector, especially retail, and employees are excepted to do more with less support.

Corporations and employers are cutting beyond their staffing levels, leaving job satisfaction at the bottom of their list. It also baffles me to find people who are placed in roles of middle management. In my experiences these folks shouldn't even be in charge of themselves, no matter who their fellow employees are.

It leaves me to wonder if the dollar so important as to have a workplace that is disgruntled or to create an environment that occupies a vision of job satisfaction. It's not a difficult question.

There definitely needs to be more accountability with management and employees to correct an already failing system.

Talk about changing careers - that's exactly what I did on May 5. I was one of the 18 volunteers at the Mission McDonald's, who flipped burgers or worked the drive-thru on McHappy Day.

With the sun beaming down it was a fabulous McHappy Day.

I had great time working the drive-through with cheerful employees handing out bags of Mickey D's without dropping a single serving. Of course, every customer had to be greeted with a smile, just like the TV commercials.

Every dollar from a Happy Meal, Big Mac and Egg McMuffin went to the Ronald McDonald House and Surrey Memorial Hospital.

According to Mission restaurant manager Kristin Stram, they raised $2,057 at this location and $7.1 million across the nation. As I was venturing out the door after a hard day at the grill, they told me to get my resume prepared ASAP.

Actually, it doesn't sound like a bad idea.

Last week, I had the opportunity to listen to former premier Bill Vander Zalm at the anti-HST rally in Mission.

Let's just say he was more than fantastic in his message.

CBC Radio Vancouver is coming to Abbotsford May 28. They will be broadcasting live from the seniors centre at the Abbotsford Recreation Centre from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Rick Cluff from 88.1FM and 690AM Early Edition will feature many local personalities. They include: Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich, deputy mayor Dave Loewen and Abbotsford-Mission MLA Randy Hawes. Other guests include: UFV's Satwinder Bains, Karry Kainth and myself.

Stories and issues will be discussed that shape Abbotsford- one of the fastest growing cities in the province. A special live musical performance will be done by singer/songwriter Adaline.

The District of Mission is holding its Annual Volunteer Awards Ceremony on June 6 at the Mission Leisure Centre at 2 p.m. Some of categories include: Arts & Culture, Citizen of the Year, Community Service, Crime Prevention & Community Safety, Lifetime Achievement, Special Accomplishment, Sports Volunteer of the Year and Against the Odds Achievement.

I hope to see you there.

- Contact Ken at

Friday, May 7, 2010

Spud Murphy: People need to look past a person's skin color....

A look back includes quality time with 'Spud'

Ken Herar, The Times

Published: Friday, May 07, 2010

It's hard to believe I am celebrating my one-year anniversary with the Abbotsford-Mission Times.

Another milestone is waiting in the wings; next month I reach my 15th year as a columnist in the Abbotsford/Mission area. Time does fly.

I am honored to be part of an organization which is truly engaged with diversity issues in our community.

It is also approximately one year ago that I last met former Matsqui reeve Spud Murphy, who passed away April 21st.

I recall driving along George Ferguson Way and seeing his car parked in his driveway.

After months of driving past the moment had arrived. I decided to pay him a visit.

He opened the door with his glowing smile and was happy to see me. He welcomed me inside where we chatted for a few hours.

We sat at his kitchen table and I was amazed at all the various newspapers that were scattered throughout his table. He was an avid reader and a jewel when it came to local and Canadian history.

How many people do you know who have a Canadian flag on their front lawn? Well, Spud did. He was always a strong supporter of diversity and knew first hand of some of the hardships visible minorities faced early in Canada.

I first met Murphy at the MSA Museum Annex in 2006, when former editor Rick Rake and myself spoke on diversity issues. What a memorable evening. Murphy reminded us that people need to look past a person's skin color.

He became emotional sharing how some of his Japanese friends were taken from their homes and put in internment camps across the country in the 1940s.

He always stayed in touch with them and visited them often. I am extremely fortunate to have spent time with a Canadian pioneer who knew the Fraser Valley like the back of his hand.

I would also like to wish former Matsqui Mayor Dave Kandal a speedy recovery in hospital. Two fine mentors who served our community with unique distinction and taught us it's important to be involved. Thank you, Spud. Get well soon, Dave.

It's been a busy few weeks in my schedule. On April 24, I participated in the Third Annual Mission Writers & Readers Festival. Among the highlights were a tribute to former UFV Poet in Residence Kuldip Gill and poetry readings and workshops on various forms of writings. Arts and culture is alive and strong in Mission.

Last week, I attended the Living History series A Story to Tell. The Reach Gallery Museum partnered with Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) to offer a series of conversations with citizens of Abbotsford who have immigrated here. The first series included my father Tok Herar and Abbotsford Collegiate student Emily Gafurova from Uzbekistan. Both provided inspirational talks from opposite corners of the globe.

My father told the audience he came to Canada in 1952 with only $7. He overcame difficulties such as racial discrimination by getting actively involved in the community. He said: "You can't be shy."

On May 13, one of the original Vietnamese boat people and an immigrant from Paraguay will talk about their immigration experiences. On May 27, speakers from Sierra Leone, India and Russia will share their stories. Both series begin at 6:30pm at The Reach Gallery Museum. For more information contact Kris Foulds at 604-864-8087. Admission is free.

n Ken is a columnist for the Abbotsford-Mission Times. He can be contacted at

© Abbotsford Times 2010