Thursday, October 27, 2011

Making diversity an election issue

Making diversity an election issue

When people write or stop me on the street to share issues regarding diversity in our community, they're not telling me anything new that I haven't already discussed. I can distinguish the haters from the people who have genuine concerns.

Like I've said in the past, we all can do better and we all have the responsibility to be welcoming to one another regardless to our ethnicity.

I have to ask the people who constantly complain and take shots at those in the community trying to make a difference regarding diversity, what are you doing to make a difference?

We are currently in election season and I have not yet heard any of the local candidates addressing issues regarding intercultural barriers. This issue is as equally important as the taxation and P3 water discussions.

I read one candidate's profile in Mission say that we need diverse leadership on council to reflect our diversity. Fair enough. We want to promote cultural diversity, but at the same time we need to also understand that there is a growing separation.

There's nothing wrong with candidates addressing these issues - actually it's imperative. However, the term "diversity" should not be hijacked to suit one's political aspirations in running for council.

Cultural diversity needs leadership if we're going to continue to promote this as an important symbol. I encourage candidates in the following weeks ahead, to familiarize themselves with some of the issues on intercultural barriers.

In order to see progress, we need to be real and honest in our intentions. If we don't address these issues now or in decades to come, we're going to encounter distinctive barriers.

This is a perfect opportunity for all candidates, including South Asians running for public office this November, to bring this issue to the forefront.

I hear several comments being made that the reason diversity isn't working is due to the fact that the South Asian community are segregating themselves.

There is some truth to this and I have addressed this point from time to time.

But it also goes further than this. It's a multidimensional issue and there are many factors that co-exist with one another. It's not just one specific ethnic community's responsibility.

What I've learned is the success and longevity of cultural diversity depends on the strengths of our partnerships. An example of this took place recently when a working accord was signed between the Fraser Valley Indo Canadian Business Association and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce.

Also, this week I received an invitation to a local fundraising event hosted by The Center for Epilepsy & Seizure Education. It will take place at The Rancho on Nov. 5. Organizer Flo Dohms expressed that she would like to see more representation of our diversity at the event.

The proceeds from the Mardi Gras celebration dinner and dance event will be used to send children to camp, support and education, along with the distribution of a children's book about epilepsy. For more info, call 1-866-Seizure.

- Ken Herar is a freelance columnist. Contact him at

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Presenting the Cycling4Diversity bike raffle winner with her prize. The 2011 journey is over, and a exciting 2012 is set to begin.

Cycling4Diversity trailblazer Ken Herar with Amber Zurowski (left) winner of bike raffle, and Diane Delves, CEO and president of Quantum Properties, representing partners of Quantum Properties Brooklyn, who donated $500 to the cause.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thanks to Diane Delves of Quantum Properties for your wonderful contribution towards our bike raffle

Overcoming 'intercultural barriers'

There has been a new development regarding the bike raffle that was drawn two weeks ago.

Winner Amber Zurowski of Abbotsford was thrilled to win the Cycling4Diversity bike, which I had the pleasure of riding to Victoria.

A few days after notifying Zurowski, she expressed to me that no one in her family rides a bike and would like to give it back to the Cycling4Diversity team for next May's trek.

She called Sarina Derksen, who was announced last week by the team to be the executive coordinator of the Cycling4Diversity ride in 2012. For a reduced price, Derksen recommended to me that we purchase the Devinci Oslo Hybrid bike from Zurowski for next year's ride and the years to follow.

Derksen said: "As the message of diversity is spreading throughout our communities, the response has been encouraging, therefore, we expect an even greater turnout for next year's ride."

The Cycling4Diversity team is thankful for the contribution made by Diane Delves of Quantum Properties, which made this all possible.

As I continue to express, the best way to overcome intercultural barriers is by encouraging people to become active in their communities. Programs are a wonderful way of initiating discussions.

Instead of placing blame, we all need to do better and include people from different cultures into our lives.

The success of diversity depends on our willingness to accept that there may be some differences, but also to work together for a common future. The Go-Ahead Power Project is an example of how we can develop relationships with new immigrant youth from ages 11-17. The program is funded by Coast Capital Savings and in partnership with Abbotsford Community Services.

The program's goals are to provide a sense of belonging and involvement in bridging cultural gaps.

Illana Boychuk said: "The project was also to implement change in their own lives by community involvement, opportunities and resources."

Another great local program that is building on international friendships is between the African nation of Namibia and the City of Abbotsford.

Since 2007, the Abbotsford Police Department has been involved in a police exchange program with the Windhoek City Police to assist it with its development as a new city police department.

Windhoek, which is the capital city of Namibia, decided to establish the country's first city police department beginning in 2006. Abbotsford Deputy Police Chief, Rick Lucy said: "There have been five exchanges focusing on a variety of areas. This sixth exchange, happening this week, will see three officers from their records section coming here to explore our records management system (PRIME), crime analysis, CompStat, and crime mapping."

There's a lot of positive activities that are occurring in our communities and I encourage people to get involved.

- Ken Herar is a freelance columnist. Contact him at:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Surfing the net, this is what I discovered. Urging me to run for political office .

Letter to the editor:
Re: The CRMG's challenge to city council:

I couldn't help but smile when I received this national enquirer type tabloid the CRMG has dubbed "The Mission Messenger".
Laughable are the fact that the CRMG is simply using people's anger as an opportunity to seize power from an already lame council. They expose much problems but offer little solutions.
What most of the voters don't know is who is pulling the strings of the CRMG like the puppets masters that they are.
Ron Taylor was a former councilor of the city and Randy Hawes was a former mayor, he is now the current Liberal MLA.
Although some see a conflict of interest, the question I ask myself is: Does this election need to turn like there in 6 on one side and half a dozen on the other? Let's not be naive, Mr Taylor and Mr Hawes are good people at the core but why believe that the same people putting the current council in power, will replace them with something better? They won't! Where are the real people that make a difference? The Ken Herar (journalist), Rhett Nicholson(Mission Fest) Arnold Muir(outspoken critic), Karen Wootten (Folk Festival) and more...
The same mentality that got us into trouble will not get us out of it, this is what the CRMG is really offering; more of the same.

Kevin Francis
My Mission

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Announcing Sarina Derksen as the Executive Coordinator of the Cycling4Diversity in 2012

The Cycling4Diversity team, which travelled from Mission to Victoria last May to celebrate World Day for Cultural Diversity is adding to its team. Founder, Ken Herar is proud to announce Sarina Derksen, a long time resident of Abbotsford, BC as Executive Coordinator for the

Cycling4Diversity 2012 initiative. Herar said, “last year’s ride was a huge success and in 2012 we’re going to build on that momentum. Team work and partnerships are very crucial in our message as we visit Lower Mainland communities. For this ride to reach the next level, we need more involvement in the organizational structure. Adding Derksen to the team in 2012 will assist in reaching our team’s goals and objectives in delivering our message in building inclusive communities. Derksen brings a vast amount of experience and passion to our team and we look forward to working with her.”

Derksen said, “I’m very excited that the Cycling4Diversity team has chosen me as the Executive Coordinator and has put faith in me to perform this role in organizing such an important event. I see this growing throughout the years to come. My work begins immediately in establishing relationships with our future partners. Bringing people together for a common goal has always been a passion of mine and is extremely close to my heart. Growing up and attending school, I had friends from a variety of cultural backgrounds which enriched my appreciation and respect for diversity.

Next year’s ride is tentatively scheduled to take place May 22 to May 25th. For those who are interested in participating in the ride or to obtain more information please contact Derksen at

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Endorsing Rina Gill & Preet Gill for local government in November 2011..

Supporting Rina Gill for Surrey City Hall:
I've known Rina Gill for approximately 5 years. I have worked with Rina on several community projects during this time. Rina is someone who has enormous passion and vibrancy. She has always been consistent in demonstrating leadership, commitment and dedication in making her community better and safer. The most recent being the "Cycling for Diversity" our team completed last May to Victoria. Rina, was a valuable member of this team and organized a vibrant community celebration for us in Surrey. The citizens of Surrey would be extremely fortunate to have an individual such as Rina on local government. Her love for community, along with vision and energy, is second to none. She is someone who is always striving to make a difference in the lives of others. Rina has the personal and professional qualities that would position her well to be a valuable member of Surrey City Council.


Supporting Preet Rai for Abbotsford School Board:
I've known Preet Rai for approximately 6 years. I have always found him to be passionate, hardworking, dedicated and someone who cares and is committed to local issues. He understands the value of education in our school system and what is required to make our environment successful and inclusive. Preet, brings a sense of cultural understanding in our diverse community, which is imperative today. He has earned the respect of the school board with his vision, along with the citizens of Abbotsford over the past 3 years. He deserves to be re-elected, and I endorse him in his campaign.

Ken Herar
Abbotsford Times Columnist
Founder, Cycling for Diversity