Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ready to ride again for diversity in 2012




Ready to ride again for diversity

Last week, the Cycling-4Diversity team received a proclamation from the province of British Columbia and Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong, declaring May 20-26 as Cycling-4Diversity Week in B.C.
With the C4D ride under a month away, the team released its logo, designed by Dwayne De Souza owner of Kapesh Media, and executive co-ordinator for C4D, Sarina Di Martino Derksen. They presented de Jong with a T-shirt bearing the logo.
The second annual ride from Mission to Victoria is shaping up to be twice as big as last year, and the support has been tremendous.
The journey begins at Griner Park, where the team will replant the ginko biloba tree that was vandalized last August. The team will travel 200 kilometres, visiting nine communities and making 34 stops over four days to speak to students, the public and organizations about ways we can celebrate diversity and make our communities more inclusive.
The C4D initiative began last year to celebrate World Day for Cultural Diversity, on May 21 each year.
This year the team will begin its ride the day after the United Nations Day and celebrate it in conjunction with Cycling-4Diversity Week.
The program includes a team of cyclists from diverse backgrounds who will share in the spirit of diversity, listen to concerns and discuss some of the challenges.
I feel it's my responsibility to be part of a larger discussion on how we can actually celebrate diversity and end some of the isolation and divisions that have been steadily increasing.
Our team is honoured to carry this message, and each community has warmly welcomed us in showing their own commitment in spreading the message.
Last year, the United Nations encouraged one million people around the globe to do one activity to support diversity and inclusion on May 21. Our activity is the Cycling-4Diversity initiative, which our team represents on this trip.
"Diversity is ever shifting and changing . . . our approach must reflect such a change as well. We live in an incredibly diverse country and are very blessed because of it. Let us not take those living around us for granted or tolerate discrimination that we might witness first-hand," said Derksen.
"We cannot begin to celebrate diversity until we actually begin talking with one another."
- If you want to join the ride e-mail cycling4diversity@gmail. com.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Herman Braich Jr. was truly an amazing individual and will be sadly missed.

Awareness and remembrance

It was with great sadness that I was informed that Herman Braich Jr. of Mission passed away Feb. 4.

The former high school basketball star, who lead Mission to the B.C. High School Championships in 1978, was remembered as someone who was talented, naturally gifted, and a real gentleman both on and off the court.

I recall a time attending junior high school when I visited the public library. I pulled out the B.C. High School Championship tournament history booklet. Inside was a picture of all the players who were selected to the 1st all-star team in 1978.

Growing up as a young person in the '80s, it was very inspiring to see someone from my hometown who also happened to be South Asian receive such an honour and recognition as a top athlete and leader.

Searching online and looking at Braich's personal stats at the provincial championships, his achievements still stand amongst some of the best who have ever played the hard-court game in B.C.

Former Mission Roadrunner head coach Brian Fitcher spoke about a time when Herman had sustained a serious injury and could not play.

Even though he wasn't able to play, he showed up at every single practice and game to support his team.

He was truly a team player on all levels. Herman's passing leaves the community with an empty feeling. He was a wonderful son, brother, uncle and friend.

He was devoted to his family, friends, community and Sikh temple and loved them very much.

One touching moment during the service was when his younger brother Kenny Braich shared that Herman had been very proud to carry his father's name.

His father, Herman Braich Sr. would have been very proud of who his son became, and all that he achieved during his life. Herman Braich Sr. died in 1976.

On another note, I recently received an e-mail from Laura Yake, executive director of The Center for Epilepsy and Seizure Education.

She wanted me to spread the word that her organization is looking for more exposure and awareness in the South Asian community.

She shared the following: "I am looking to reach out to the Punjabi community. March was Epilepsy Awareness Month and we have several Punjabi volunteers who have been working to create awareness within their community."

What is epilepsy? The Epilepsy Association states the following: "Epilepsy is a medical condition that produces seizures affecting a variety of mental and physical functions. When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they are considered to have epilepsy. Seizures can last from a few seconds to a few minutes."

Jassi Hera from Abbotsford, a South Asian grade 12 Rick Hansen student, shared these thoughts: "I've had epilepsy for over a year now. I feel as if there's not enough awareness for this disorder.

"I volunteered at The Center For Epilepsy because I want to help create more awareness. I know how everyone with epilepsy feels, especially when you endure seizures.

"They are the scariest moments to go through.

"I've had real bad times with seizures. I hope to create awareness for epilepsy so we can gain more of an understanding of what it really is."

For more information, please visit

- Ken Herar is a freelance columnist with the Abbotsford-Mission Times. Contact him via e-mail at: kenherar@