Friday, August 27, 2010

Delving into diversity..

Delving into diversity

By Ken Herar, The Times August 27, 2010

The Building an Inclusive, Diverse Community essay contest is gaining steam. I had the opportunity to be on country radio 107.1 FM this week, discussing details with host Kenny Jones.

In the past two weeks, my e-mail account has been flooded with participants forwarding me their thoughts or asking questions. There are many terrific responses and thank you to everyone who wrote in. We will be in touch. For those who forgot the question or weren't aware of this contest. The question is:

How do we create an opportunity for different cultures to work together towards a harmonized, inclusive, multicultural community?

There are two categories: For youth, participants must be under 16 years of age or younger. The adult category is open to everyone over 16 years. All essays must be 300 words or less and e-mailed to me at the address below or dropped at the Abbotsford-Mission Times office (30887 Peardonville Rd., Abbotsford). Include your name, category and contact information.

The most common question I get asked about our contest is why am I/the Times doing this?

Well, it's simple - it is to promote cultural diversity and to continue to build relationships and to correct any misunderstandings that may exist between different groups in our communities.

Last week I proposed a race-relations question to my Facebook friends. I received a dozen or so lengthy responses. I wanted to get some personal insight into racism in our communities. It was an open discussion and I asked no one to hold back. Here are some of the comments I received.

"Racism is alive and well in every culture."

"I am Caucasian, so I hear Caucasians utter comments that embarrass me. I don't know what the East Indian people or Chinese think. Once we are Canadian, I would like us to work together. But there are bad apples in every group."

"When I heard a child calling someone a Hindu I asked him if he would like to be called a Baptist or a Catholic. Again, it's ignorance."

"OK, after thought, I can honestly say I am Caucasian and feel that every immigrant group is racist towards us. Why? Because as a white person, I cannot have an only Canadian whites group, or I'm racist. However, every immigrant group can have their own colleges, their own TV channels and their own beliefs . . ."

It's clear we still have much work to do. In the next two weeks, I will be climbing the Grouse Grind and would like people to join me in this cause to fight racism.

It takes a team effort and I am looking for members. If you're interested, please e-mail me.

Remember, everyone makes it to the top and no one gets left behind.

- Ken Herar is a columnist for the Abbotsford-Mission Times. Contact him at: kenherar@gmail.com.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Capture minds with essay contest..

Capture minds with essay contest

By Ken Herar, The Times August 13, 2010

Yes, its that time again. The Abbotsford-Mission Times is presenting the Building an Inclusive, Diverse Community essay contest for the second straight year.

This is my fourth year hosting this event and it just keeps getting better.

It's truly inspiring listening and reading to many of the fabulous ideas that are waiting to be uncovered.

Believe it or not, this is also part of my job. But we have made one new exciting addition this year.

You guessed it, making it more inclusive for everyone. Many young writers have been asking me around town: are you doing that essay thing again?

It's encouraging to inspire people to be reflective about our society.

When we speak about diversity, for the most part we are still getting to know one another. Our social environment is constantly changing and our diverse relationships are continuing to grow and flourish.

Everything takes time and we must nurture it for it to blossom. I have this vision of looking down the road 20, 30 or 50 years from now and seeing the benefits from our actions today.

The Times is opening this contest to everyone as part of our new addition. We are hosting two categories: youth and adult. For youth, participants have to be under 16 years of age.

The adult category is open to everyone over 16 years. It is going to be a wonderful exercise to blend everyone's thoughts from our different age brackets into one contest.

I have picked a new set of judges, except for a couple.

There will be three winners in each category and an honorable mention.

All essays must be 300 words or less and e-mailed to me at the address below or dropped off at the Times office (30887 Peardonville Rd., Abbotsford). Include your name, category and contact information.

The deadline hasn't been finalized and all winners will be featured along with their essays.

Now, it's the moment you have been waiting for.

After many sleepless nights and discussions, this year's diversity question is: How do we create an opportunity for different cultures to work together towards a harmonized, inclusive, multicultural community?

Good luck.

Ken Herar is a columnist for the Times. Contact him at: kenherar@gmail.com.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dangerous dog days of summer...

Dangerous dog days of summer

By Ken Herar, Special to the Times August 3, 2010


With all the recent deaths on and off our roadways this summer, we need to take special care.

I recall a time growing up here in the valley when, if a young person tragically died in an accident, it affected everyone and basically the entire town shut down.

You couldn't find a single soul wandering or kids playing on the streets. How time has changed. A few weeks ago, a dark fuzzy object dove in front of my car. I didn't know what it was until I looked back. It was a cat.

I hit it hard and possibly killed the poor thing. I was in complete shock as to what I should do next. Traffic was heavy with cars traveling at high speeds. I just felt horrible.

I remember as a young child taking our beautiful white German Shepherd dog named King for a walk when he was unfortunately hit by a passing car and eventually died at the scene. It's such a traumatic experience seeing your dog crippled and suffering. The driver was kind enough to return to the scene and apologize. It wasn't his fault. To this day, I still wish we had taken him on a leash.

Yes, the right thing would be to turn around and assist.

But, I didn't have the heart to see it in dire straits. Even, if I did go back to the scene, who would I speak with? I spotted an SPCA employee later in the day. I informed her of the unfortunate mishap. She told me to always contact the city animal control for assistance.

Jodi Dunlop, branch manager of the Abbotsford SPCA said: "To always call the SPCA if you hit or see an injured an animal on the streets and they will take care of it after 5p.m. If it is between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. they should direct their calls to the Abbotsford Animal Control if it is a dog. If no one is available to assist, the SPCA will deal with it.

"We also help cats and rabbits. If it is an injured farm or domestic animal people should also call the SPCA and they will direct you."

A friend made an interesting statement in a conversation. It's not the first car that kills an animal, its usually the second car. If you hit an animal please stop and offer help or notify someone. I did return to the scene and there was no cat to be found anywhere. I am still hopeful.

On a happier note, I am having a lot of fun on my online blog site these days. But, there was one problem, my site needed a bit of back drop. It was simply too dull. A friend introduced me to Owen Greaves, a local social media expert, who basically changed my site within minutes and added the flavour it needed.

On Greaves website his slogan states: "I show you the future, then help you create ideas to adopt it."

- Ken Herar writes columns for the Abbotsford-Mission Times. Contact him at: Kenherar@gmail.com.