Thursday, June 30, 2011

Celebrating 16 years as your diversity columnist

Canada's 144th birthday allows time for reflection

I hope everyone has a beautiful Canada Day tomorrow. It's a fabulous time to explore your own community with all the festivities.

It's hard to believe it's been 16 years since I began scribing this column. I am celebrating this special occasion with a sense of achievement and humbleness. Some of the issues have dramatically changed since I entered these pages in June 1995.

I have always remained committed in sharing what we all need to do together if we're going go build an inclusive community. It's challenging, but nonetheless it gives me a sense of purpose and direction for the future.

It's still a long, uphill climb, but progress is being made at all corners and that's a reason to celebrate in my books.

I recall 16 summers ago knocking on various editors' doors and looking for that one opportunity to share my ideas.

The sad irony is many doors didn't open. It was disappointing to the say the least, but I never gave up on the dream.

That moment arrived when I contacted former Times editor Gord Kurenoff. It was my last phone call and lucky enough, he expressed an interest.

I was fortunate to work with two mentors - Kurenoff and then Rick Rake for most of these 16 years. They both taught me some valuable lessons, for which I remain forever thankful.

The first thing is never make the story about yourself. Always explore the issues and the people involved in the community.

I have never forgotten their words and they still echo in my soul. Life is truly based on opportunities and good people willing to listen. I have found in many cases that people have the skills, but just don't get the opportunities.

I find too often people's abilities get overlooked or underestimated.

Receiving the provincial proclamation from Abbotsford MLA and Minister of Health Mike de Jong two weeks ago was a unique way to celebrate this anniversary.

De Jong and Abbotsford Coun. Bill MacGregor, a cycling team member, took the moment to say some humbling words about my work and this achievement.

Honestly, our Cycling for Diversity team didn't do this journey for any recognition, but rather to celebrate and discuss the issues. Team members all had the vision of leaving our communities better than how we found them. The proclamation recognizes May 21, 2011 as Cycling for Diversity Day throughout the province. We've received four proclamations and counting.

The University of the Fraser Valley Community Radio Society, CIVL 101.7 FM recently, returned back from Halifax after sending three delegates to the 2011 National Community and Campus Radio Conference.

Earlier in the year, CIVL received the Award for Outreach at the Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards in March. CIVL was honoured to receive the 2011 NCRA Award for Community Development in Halifax. UFV student and CIVL on-air personality Alicia Williams was given an honourable mention in music programming excellence.

CIVL Society co-founder and president Dustin Ellis was elected to the National Community and Campus Radio Association's Board.

According to Aaron Levy, station manager: "This year's accomplishments are clear signs that CIVL's efforts are working, and that UFV and the Fraser Valley are benefiting from them. CIVL Radio will continue working to help raise the national profile and local involvement of the communities it serves."

n Ken Herar is a freelance columnist with the Abbotsford-Mission Times. Contact him at:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Partnership with Canada Safeway: Cycling for Diversity

Partnership with Canada Safeway: Cycling for Diversity

Ministerial Statement from MLA Mike de Jong

Ministerial Statement

June 17, 2011

Minister of Health and Abbotsford West MLA Michael de Jong issued the following statement today in regard to the presentation of a provincial proclamation declaring/recognizing Cycling for Diversity.

“Today I congratulate all those who are contributing to the respect for and enhancement of diversity within our community and our province,” declared the Minister during presentation of the proclamation June 17 at The Reach community gallery.

The proclamation recognizes the efforts of a group of cyclists from Abbotsford and Mission, led by local resident Ken Herar, who cycled some 200 kilometres over four days, riding from Mission to Victoria and back, to raise awareness about cultural diversity. The group stopped in communities throughout the Fraser Valley, including Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey, New Westminster, Burnaby, Vancouver and Richmond as well as Victoria.

The cyclists also visited several elementary and secondary schools on their tour, participating in civic celebrations and meeting with civic leaders.

“I am very impressed with the efforts of these cyclists to ensure so many people recognized the importance of cultural diversity and the great impact it has on the province today, and into the future. Immigration, and the strength of cultural diversity that brings to our province, is what will continue to keep the economic well-being of British Columbia strong well into our future,” explained Minister de Jong.

The cycling tour began May 18 and continued through May 21, which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly as “World Day for Cultural Diversity”.

The provincial proclamation presented by Minister de Jong stated, in part, “The cultural diversity of British Columbia contributes greatly to life in our Province” and “British Columbia is committed to the ideal of a harmonious society based on mutual respect”.

Minister de Jong made the presentation to Ken Herar and Abbotsford City Councillor Bill McGregor, who accepted on behalf of the other cyclists who participated including Alexandria Mitchell, Sukhi Dhami, Abbotsford Deputy Police Chief Rick Lucy, Pat Peron, Chris Singer, Cheryl Tallman and Langley City Councillor Dave Hall.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Abbotsford News: Cycling for Diversity 2011

Cycling for Diversity team rides from Mission to Victoria

A local group is cycling from Mission to Victoria, starting on Wednesday, May 18 to raise awareness about cultural diversity.

The four-day 200-kilometre trip, called Cycling for Diversity, is led by Mission resident Ken Herar and includes stops in Mission, Abbotsford Langley, Surrey, New Westminster, Burnaby, Vancouver, Richmond and Victoria.

The group will visit several elementary and high schools, participate in civic celebrations and meet with civic leaders.

During the trek, Herar will ride a Devinci Oslo Hybrid road bike loaned from Wentings Cycle and Mountain Shop in Mission.

He hopes to raise funds to purchase the bike and donate it to someone in need.

On the first day of the trip, the Cycling for Diversity team visits Griner Park in Mission at 8:15 a.m. for a diversity tree planting.

The District of Mission has also declared May 16 to 21 as Cultural Diversity Week.

Also on the first day, the team stops in Abbotsford to visit Dasmesh Punjabi School, W.J. Mouat Secondary and Howe Middle School.

A second tree planting takes place at 2:30 p.m. at Old Yale Road and South Fraser Way. The next stops are at Safeway at 3:30 p.m. for an hour-long diversity celebration featuring Korean drummers and at 5 p.m. at the Sikh Temple on South Fraser Way.

The group then makes its way to Langley, and concludes its trip in Victoria on May 21 at the legislature.

An ongoing journal of the trip can be viewed on the Cycling for Diversity Facebook page. Donations for the bike Herar will be riding can be made at Envision Financial, account 4577128 (Mission branch).

Interested riders are invited to contact Herar at 604-615-2499.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cycling for Diversity: We're all home...

Bikes are back, and big announcement is around the corner

Cyclers see celebrations

The high-energy, four-day, 200-kilometre Cycling for Diversity Tour is history, and all 10 team members are safely home.

Our message for the nine-city journey focused on building an inclusive community, and we believe we were successful in inspiring others to break the barriers that exist.

Certainly the civic officials we met in each major city were impressed with the message.

Meaningful partnerships were developed along the way, and Korean drummers, Const. Mary Boonstra's flash mob, Bhangara dancers, assemblies of colourful flag-waving students and a huge segment of the community attended our opening celebration hosted outside Canada Safeway.

Actually, things turned out better than I expected. Having only started our preparations in March, we pulled off some strategic miracles to make this trip a huge success, one this community won't soon forget.

With 24 planned stops, including eight schools, several cultural centres, temples, community services centres, major malls and city halls, we arrived at every destination on time.

If there's anything I appreciate more than ever now, it's bike lanes.

Cycling is a wonderful way to travel and stay healthy, and it's encouraging to see designated routes.

One stop that stands out was on this trip was at Mission Indian Friendship Centre, where we were spiritually heralded with a bandana and drum ceremony to wish us the best of luck. Our gift to our hosts at most stops was our trademark diversity T-shirt.

We launched the trek at Griner Park in Mission with five cyclists (Sukhi Dhami, Alex Mitchell, Abbotsford Coun. Bill MacGregor, Abbotsford Deputy Police Chief Rick Lucy and myself) where we planted a tree with a crowd of local dignitaries.

With us was team driver Rick Rake, who documented the entire trip on social media.

To view trip photos, search "Cycling for Diversity 2011" on Facebook.

I thought the tree-planting would be a fabulous idea to kick-start our journey to Victoria because diversity is similar to a growing tree. We need to nurture and protect diversity like we would a tree.

With layovers in Langley, Burnaby and Tsawwassen, we celebrated World Day for Cultural Diversity on May 21 with acting Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto on the steps of the historic BC Legislature.

We even met noted musician and composer David Foster there.

With our success, an army of people have come forward to participate in Cycle 2012. I've not made any official plans for next year, but I'm 99.9 per cent sure we'll hit the pavement again.

I would have liked to have spent more time in all of the great Lower Mainland celebrations for us along the way.

The reason for this ride's success were the people who stepped up when I asked for assistance.

I cannot highlight this point enough. People and organizations put tremendous faith in this ride and trusted me to make this work.

The message of diversity is only as good as those who work in tandem with us.

I would like to express my appreciation to Deesh Photography, Quadra Homes, Dwayne De Souza, Susan Archer, Randy Kailey, Andy Sidhu, Khalsa Diwan Society, Fraser Valley Indo-Canadian Business Association, VanCity (Mission branch), Canada Safeway, Envision Financial (Mission branch), Mission (Sunrise) Rotary Club and Wenting Cycle & Mountain Shop for their undying support.

An announcement will be held June 17 at 11 a.m. at MLA Mike de Jong's office in regards to this year's Cycling for Diversity ride.

n Ken Herar is a columnist with the Abbotsford-Mission TImes. Contact him at:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mission City Record: Cycling for Diversity 2011

Journey completed


The Cycling for Diversity team recently completed its 200-km journey from Mission to Victoria, organized by Mission’s Ken Herar, to showcase the need for harmonious cultural diversity in the area.

The May 18 kick-off event at Griner Park, saw the five riders meet with Mayor James Atebe where a tree was planted and he read out a proclamation declaring it World Day for Cultural Diversity. In all, the group made 24 stops over four days. Sponsorship from Wentings Cycle, Envision Financial and the Mission AM Rotary Club made the event possible.