Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bentley Boo..Boo. Cuddle time after our tennis workout.

Bentley, my favorite little dog. The best Schnauzer that ever lived.

Cycling4Diversity Exhibition from August 21-September 7, 2012

Cycling4Diversity items at The Reach Gallery Exhibition

The Reach Gallery showcasing Cycling4Diversity

Cycling4Diversity t-shirts from 2011/2012 at The Reach Gallery

Cycling4Diversity Exhibition at The Reach Gallery

Cycling4Diversity Exhibition at The Reach Gallery in Abbotsford from Aug 21st-Sept 7th, 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hate crimes against Sikhs

 

Racism too close to the surface

 
 
The Wisconsin shootings are a reminder that much work remains to be done against racial hate. Can this sort of tragedy occur here? Unfortunately, yes.
We have seen hate crimes against Sikhs in the Lower Mainland before. In January 1998, there was the racially motivated killing of Nirmal Singh Gill in a parking lot at a Sikh temple in Surrey. A selfproclaimed white supremacist, along with four others pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the beating in which they brutally stomped Mr. Gill to death.
In 2009, six Sikh men were playing tennis in Aldergrove when four teens uttering racial slurs approached and assaulted these individuals.
Recently, in the Toronto area, a Sikh elementary school was vandalized with the letters 'KKK' and swastikas drawn on its walls.
Earlier this year, vandals wrote 'terrorist' on Sikh parade posters in Surrey.
What has been most impressive and moving since the Wisconsin tragedy is how communities have come together at vigils and with messages of support.
In Abbotsford, a vigil at the Sikh Heritage Museum saw many people came together to remember and pay their respects.
United States President Barack Obama offered his condolences in his White House statement after the shootings: "As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family."
Obama's statement calling Sikhs part of the broader American family can be very divisive in a nation that is already racially divided.
I understand that he was reaching out to offer his condolences. However, the question remains regarding his statement - are Sikhs part of the American family or not?
I was surprised to learn that the radio station CKNW with host Philip Till took the time to interview a man who wrote in about how Sikhs need to blend into the community more. The writer's comments were very disrespectful towards the Sikh community.
Not even a week had passed since the shooting, and the Sikh community was still in mourning.
Where is the respect in this? This was an inappropriate time to allow such a discussion, and it only fuels more hate and causes more divisions in our multicultural communities.
I agree that work needs to be done on the topics of cultural diversity in Canada, but it's all in the approach and communication. This was simply the wrong time to start a discussion of this kind.
Here is some of what writer Dave Foran said on air on CKNW when defending his letter:
"I'm not the only one here and I don't believe I'm prejudiced. I know lots of people from India. They blend in. They wear blue jeans. I don't want to live in India."
Foran insists he doesn't condone violence, but he believes "Sikhs are disrespectful" because they don't "blend in" after moving to Canada.
He goes on to say: "your long beards, turbans, clothes and waddling as you follow each other down the street is enough to make us sick. Lose the traditions or stay in India."
- Ken Herar writes about diversity for the Abbotsford Mission Times. His email is kenherar@gmail.com.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Damage done with false accusation

 

Damage done with false accusation

 
T he truth is out regarding a sexual assault allegation reported last February by a 19year-old female in Abbotsford (Sexual attack report ruled to be bogus, Times, July 31).
The young alleged victim told police a story something along these lines: she was walking on the sidewalk around 7 p.m. when she saw a newer model white pickup truck pass her twice as she headed east toward a bus stop.
Two South Asian men were allegedly inside the vehicle.
As the woman approached the intersection, she said the male passenger exited the truck, grabbed her and pushed her into the rear seat of the truck.
The driver parked the vehicle a short distance away and both men sexually assaulted her. She said she was then pushed out of the truck and onto the ground in a parking lot in the area of Gladys Avenue.
The Abbotsford Police issued a statement last Thursday reporting that this story told by this young woman was not true.
I wrote a column earlier this year on this story urging people with any information or knowledge of these suspects to come forward for the public safety of our community.
This is part of what I expressed in my column on Feb. 23:
"I've been hearing various comments over this past week regarding this incident. Many have been very supportive regarding what this woman has endured, however, others people's comments have the potential to divide the community."
Here is what one person said on Facebook: "Time to start deporting these people that are not born in Canada & strip them of Canadian citizenship or send them to jail for 99 years if born here."
I responded with this: "That's a pretty racist remark to make."
Sorry to say not everyone of colour is always an immigrant or a criminal. Think about it.
At the end of the day, there are good and bad in all races. When we speak about diversity, one of the things we have in common is that we all stand up against those who commit criminal acts and believe in public safety."
It's very unfortunate that our local community had to fear that two individuals were on the loose due to these false allegations. I know people are stating that this young woman needs to be punished and charged.
Let's remove ourselves from these negative feelings. First of all, the Abbotsford Police did a tremendous job in investigating and being diligent in trying to find these suspects.
Our diverse population, including the South Asian community, stepped forward to lend their support to locate these suspects.
We may never understand the reason why this young woman did what she did in making up this story or why she felt the need to accuse South Asian men as being the culprits. I recall a time in 1989 of a similar case where a young woman accused a South Asian man for attacking her in Abbotsford and it turned out to be false.
Being a brown person, I can say it was not a very nice feeling listening to some of the comments and assumptions. I hope this individual receives the help she needs.
False accusations against a certain race or culture can hurt and divide an entire community.
- Ken Herar is a freelance columnist with the Abbotsford-Mission Times. Contact him at: kenherar@gmail. com.