Thursday, August 25, 2011

Colleen Giesbrecht gets misses the point.. This was not the focus of my discussion.

Giesbrecht offers insight into Sikh headwear

Editor, the Times:

I have to agree with Regina Dalton's letter (Turban talk sets her head spinning, Times, Aug. 23). I, too, was disappointed with Ken Herar's column (Keep turban queries respectful, Times, Aug. 18).

We never did find out the answer to a question that many of us have wondered about. I have never taken the time to ask or look it up online, but now I have. This is the answer I found on which seems quite helpful:

In general, any colour or design is acceptable. Most men and women tend to coordinate the colour of the turban with their outfit and vice versa. Choice of colour may be just as unique as the individual. The turban fabric can be found in almost any colour's shade or hue. For the more creative folks there are various patterns to choose from as well. Although there are some commonly regarded colour preferences for certain occasions, choice of colour may vary.

There aren't any rules regarding what colour or pattern can or cannot be worn.

There a few popular favourites and some commonly practiced norms. For example, orange and navy are traditional Sikh Khalsa colours also worn on days of religious observance or special commemorative events. A shade of pink or red is worn on a special day such as one's wedding, engagement or to celebrate other major events. Many Sikh men and women choose to don a white, off-white or a similar shade daily as part of their beliefs in keeping with the faith. It is also a common colour worn by Eastern Sikhs at events such as a funeral ceremony or any event where a bright colour would not be considered appropriate.

On the other hand, Western Sikhs commonly wear white as part of their daily Sikh garb. Black and navy are more popular with the younger generation and also worn at more formal events such as black tie dinners and parties.

Camouflage pattern is a popular choice among the military personnel. Patriotic patterns also add their own charm.

These are the answers provided by

Q: Does the colour of the turban matter?

A: No. The colour of the turban is based on personal preference. There are hundreds of different colours, even tie-died colours and unique prints.

Q: Do girls and women also wear turbans?

A: Yes. Girls and women have the choice of wearing a turban.

A suggestion to Ken Herar: After questioning the motives behind the question you could have actually provided an answer for us all.

Too bad the opportunity to promote understanding was not used to best advantage.

Colleen Giesbrecht, Abbotsford

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sarina Derksen clarifies cultural issues in her own words...

I’ve been following the responses regarding the column Ken wrote concerning the woman who approached him inquiring as to why women and children/babies are “now” wearing turbans as well the reason behind the different colour turbans within the Sikh community. I’m really quite disappointed reading how his statement about this woman re-locating has been taken. Unfair accusations and assumptions have been made against him and to me this is disappointing and uncalled for.

The fact is, Ken and his co-worker patiently took the time out (at their place of work) to try to answer her “questions” but due to her anxiety and responses to their answers, it was evident to the two of them that their answers were not good enough for her. Based on the anxiety she demonstrated and comments, there appears to be a very different underlying issue as to where she was really coming from. It seemed like she appeared frustrated with the increased number of turbans in our community and was disturbed as to why “now” women and children wear them. I will jump in briefly to say that I was born in Abbotsford, I’m a Caucasian woman and I have lived here my entire life (40 yrs) and Sikh women and children/babies wearing turbans is NOT a new “thing” in fact, I use to see more women and children/babies wearing turbans in our community than I do now.

I have to say based on this woman’s response and the indifference she demonstrated towards Ken and his co-worker, her questions to me were not coming from a sincere place but rather they appear to be an excuse for her to express her frustration with the increased number of “turbans” within our community.

In Ken’s column he said, “I have a simpler solution - if you don't like the ethnicity in our local community, consider relocating.”
Let us take a close and honest look at what he is saying here. He said “IF” you don’t like the ethnicity in the community, “CONSIDER” relocating. The “IF” is in relation to “IF” this woman can not for whatever reason accept another culture, be satisfied with our ever growing community of Sikh people and other cultures who may wear a head covering or turban, get past her issues regarding this culture and their practices and be content and happy to live in a community with many people who wear turbans......IF she can’t get past her personal issues and possible prejudices and live happily, it MIGHT be better for her to consider relocating to another town where she feels happier.

The same suggestion can be used if you don’t like the rain in Vancouver and can’t live happily amongst all the rainfall then possibly moving to a drier town or province would be a better solution.
If one can’t get past their barriers, there is nothing wrong, hurtful, disturbing or unfair in suggesting that the person relocate to a place that would make them feel happier and more a part of their community.

Telling someone to go back to “their” country is WAY different than what has been “suggested” above by Ken. Telling someone to go back to “their” country is used when one culture, colour or race does not accept another that is different from their own moving into their country or is WAY different from what Ken was suggesting. If one CAN’T get past their barriers, live happily amongst other cultures/races then possible relocation is not a hurtful suggestion.

Ken has met MANY caucasian people that have told him personally that they moved out of Abbotsford BECAUSE of the East Indian population. I have to say, to me this is a double edged sword.....on one hand, good for them for being honest but on the other hand it makes me angry and I find it to be a terrible shame. I personally grew up with many East Indian people who treated my family as their own family....loved us unconditionally and showed great care and compassion. Ken has also met a number of East Indian people that have also relocated because they didn’t like the East Indian (their own culture) amongst them and didn’t want their children going to the same school. I had never heard this before talking with him. Truly Ken has heard it all throughout the years.

Instead of jumping to conclusion and assuming what Ken “meant” - each of you should have taken the time to personally contact Ken and ask for clarification. Everything that I wrote above is because I personally spoke with Ken myself and he explained everything that happened during this encounter. This (approaching your fellow brother, neighbour, friend) is what builds community and relationships....making assumptions and blanket accusations does not move us forward or closer to one another.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Letter writer, Regina Dalton is totally incorrect. Get the facts right, please.

Turban talk sets her head spinning

Editor, the Times:

If Ken Herar is trying to build bridges, his column 'Keep turban queries respectful' (Times, Aug. 18) doesn't do such a good job.

I don't dispute that folks can have their own agendas - it is possible to discern when someone is trying to make a dig with a supposedly simple question. Yet going from someone asking a question, to assuming that the question is loaded, to stating, "People can often see the hate," to adding "if you don't like the ethnicity in our local community, consider relocating," left my head spinning.

And where I hoped I might actually get some answers about the colours of turbans - the variations of which, I, as an artist, truly enjoy - I found myself instead wondering if Mr.

Herar would also "read between the lines" if we ever met.

That concern makes me hope we don't, and it has nothing to do with his ethnicity. But then he may choose not to believe that.

Regina Dalton


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Keep turban queries respectful

Keep turban queries respectful

Recently, I had an interesting conversation with a friend who was curious about why Sikhs wear the various colours and different styles of turbans.

Living in the Lower Mainland, many times in a day you will see turbaned Sikhs walking on the streets, in the malls or maybe at your workplace. This simply shows how far we have come as a nation in establishing our diversity throughout Canada.

As Abbotsford prepares for the centennial celebrations of the Historic Sikh Temple on South Fraser Way from Aug 26-28, this unique anniversary demonstrates our roots and partnerships that have been built over the last century.

Getting back to the conversation with this lady, she stopped me dead in my tracks with her questions about turbans. I have no issues with that. Where I draw the line is if an individual is being respectful in their questioning. Let's just say, she was cutting a fine line at the very least.

Furthermore, she went on to comment that she was surprised to see females and children wearing turbans.

She asked, "Is this something new?" I replied, "no." She didn't sound very happy in her tone. I was left with the impression that she did not like the changing ethnic landscape of our local community.

What I gathered from this short five-minute conversation as I read between the lines was that there are too many people with turbans in our community.

She did not say it but her body language and tone certainly expressed this unfortunate message. The person assisting me in this conversation also felt the same way.

Next time you ask a question about someone's religion or culture, be respectful how you direct the questions.

I understand that not everyone knows why turbaned Sikhs wear different colours and why women and children wear turbans. To tell you the truth, I didn't know the correct answers, either.

That's why I called a friend to assist me. It's good to ask and learn about our ethnic diversity. This is how we build bridges and inclusiveness.

But don't forget to show patience and respect and be genuine in your interest. If you can't do this - don't ask. People can often see the hate.

I have a simpler solution - if you don't like the ethnicity in our local community, consider relocating.

We're all at different stages in our understanding of diversity and that includes me. Discussion and dialogue are some of the best ways to overcome misunderstanding.

Are you in between jobs or looking for that first job in Canada? Fast tracking your soft skills is an essential tool in landing that first job. The Employment Mentors and Skills Connect programs are presenting Nick Noorani, one of the 'Top 25 Canadian Immigrants' and former publisher of the Canadian Immigrant magazine.

He will be presenting the "7 Success Secrets for Immigrants" on Sept. 8 from 9: 30 a.m. to 12 noon in the Jasbir Saran Room, Abbotsford Community Services main office, 2420 Montrose Ave, Abbotsford.

RSVP your attendance to Michelle Spencer at or by contacting 604-866-0257.

- Ken Herar is a columnist for the AbbotsfordMission Times. Contact: