Thursday, September 27, 2012

Celebrating Culture Days & the 120th Birthday Bash of The District of Mission

Make the most of great events

As we prepare for the weekend, it's also a special time to embrace Culture Days in our communities.
The third annual event is a collaborative coast-to-coast-tocoast volunteer movement to raise the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities.
Held on the last weekend of September, events are being organized to discover the world of artists, creators, historians, architects, designers and other creative people in our communities.
Sept. 28, 29 and 30 features thousands of free hands-on and interactive activities.
Events take place at The Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford to mark this national occasion.
On Friday at 11 a.m., there is the Illuminating Peace exhibition and Pillars of Peace workshop by Edmonton artist Amy Loewan.
There will also be a curator's talk by Haema Sivanesan at 12 p.m. Friday, on the exhibit the heart that has no love/peace/ generosity is not a heart.
Later that evening at 5: 30 p.m. there will be a light dinner followed by a screening at 7 p.m. of the film The Kite Runner, telling the story of Amir, a well-to-do boy from Kabul, Afghanistan who is tormented by the guilt of abandoning his friend Hassan, the son of his father's servant.
The story is set against a backdrop from the fall of the monarchy in Afghanistan through the Soviet invasion, the mass exodus of Afghan refugees to Pakistan and the United States.
On Saturday from 3 - 5 p.m. there will be an interactive Arts Action Heritage session, entitled Postcards to Peace.
On Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. there will be a repeat of Loewan's Illuminating Peace exhibition and Pillars of Peace workshop.
For more information on these events contact Karina Chow at
Across the river the District of Mission is throwing a 120th community birthday bash on Sept. 29 at the Heritage Park Centre beginning at noon.
There will tons of activities for kids, prizes, and local entertainment. It finishes off with a concert at 7 p.m.
Organizing committee member Bronwen Sutherland said, "It is a celebration of culture in Mission and features all of the aspects of life in our community in the last 12 decades.
"Beginning with the Sto: lo [First Nations] who lived along the banks of the river through all of the immigrants who washed up on the shores of the Fraser River to find a new life.
It will be an amazing day. One that give us pause to think of the past, and the hopes and aspirations of the future.
"It is an inter-generational event with activities for all members of the community combining music, dance, sports and video," she added.
"I just think it is important to note that many diverse people made Mission what is today and it is exactly what will make the Mission of tomorrow.
"Despite some turbulent times such as the internment and the residential schools, Mission has truly blossomed into a community where everyone belongs and where everyone can feel safe and secure and listened to," said Sutherland.
- Ken Herar is freelance columnist writing for the Abbotsford-Mission Times. Contact him at kenherar@

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Making a difference through words.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Deesh Sekhon & Dylan Kular are making a world of difference.


Locals tackling global problems

Two Abbotsford residents are making their mark in the world of humanitarianism.
Deesh Sekhon, founder of GirlKind Foundation, began her journey earlier this year after viewing the trailer to the film It's A Girl. After watching the film, she was moved deeply by what she saw and couldn't stop thinking of all the girls who have gone missing, have been aborted or thrown away because of the simple fact they were female.
She learned of a home in India called Unique Home which saves these unwanted little girls and takes them in and raises them.
Sekhon wanted to do something nice for the girls to show other people around the world cared for them. She set out and collected almost 1,500 items, which included personal care products and clothing.
Her family delivered these items to India in March. The girls were ecstatic and this bond created from half way around the globe has continued to grow. Sekhon's ultimate goal is to inspire other people to take a stand and create a better world where every girl matters.
The film It's A Girl deals with the many faces of gendercide and hopes to educate and inspire individuals to stand up against it and create a movement.
The United Nations estimates as many as 200 million girls are missing in the world today because of this so-called "gendercide". The film reveals the issue. It asks why this is happening, and why so little is being done to save girls and women.
The film also tells the stories of abandoned and trafficked girls, women who suffer extreme dowry related violence, brave mothers fighting to save their daughters' lives, and of other mothers who would kill for a son.
GirlKind Foundation is presenting the select screening of Shadowline Films' It's A Girl this Saturday, Sept. 15, at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium, 32315 South Fraser Way in Abbotsford.
There are select screenings happening all across the world, but this is only screening taking place in British Columbia.
Doors open at 6: 30 p.m. and the program for the evening will begin at 7 p.m. Purchase tickets online at to ensure seating.
Tickets can also be purchased at the door while supplies last.
Dylan Kular is another inspiring local individual, who is currently attending Quest University.
He spent part of this summer in Rwanda representing STAND, which conducted a Genocide Awareness Project.
While Kular was there, he met with many organizations that supported genocide survivors and also met with government officials.
From there they would analyze and see if the people of Rwanda were getting proper aid.
He also travelled to the villages and visited genocide memorials, listened to stories and to see if they regained strength since the genocide.
Kular also volunteers with a homeless shelter in downtown Squamish, and continues to donate his time to STAND to increase anti-genocide awareness among Canada's youth.
Genocide has been a topic of great interest for Kular since his last year of high school when he was first introduced to this horrific fact of life in Africa.
"Since my eyes were opened by what the reality of genocide is, I have investigated ways become involved with and support the awareness of anti-genocide, which is how I came to know of STAND," he said.
He now spends his time speaking to students about his trip and the topic of genocide.
Ken Herar is a freelance columnist with the Abbotsford-Mission Times. Contact him via e-mail at kenherar@

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rising above issues of racism in our community.

Shedding light on the shadows of ignorance

Editor, the Times:
I will begin with my appreciation for the Times editorial decision to run the opinion piece on racism (Racism too close to the surface, Aug. 16).
So often our community will not use the R word, denying for the most part that racism exists, especially at the local level.
I was therefore heartened when you chose to provide a social analysis arising from Obama's comments following the Wisconsin shootings at the Sikh temple.
The ignorance with which most of us approach living in an ever changing society means leadership is critical on all levels.
Mr. Herar, in helping the readership understand the nature of racism and how it can be primed not only with overt violence but well meaning phrases, you have significantly altered how we can continue the conversation locally.
Thank you.
Georgina Marsom

Mission Tennis 2012 results

Tennis anyone?

Mission Tennis Club's year-end tournament was Sept. 1-3 at the Centennial Park courts in Mission.
Winners of the mixed doubles were Mark and Val Gervais who defeated Craig Sciankowy and Lorraine Berkey, 6-0, 6-0. Val Gervais also took first in women's singles, beating Tanis Sanford, 6-1, 6-4.
The men's doubles final was a close and exciting match with Mark Gervais and Nick Borzelli defeating last year's champions Brandon Wood and Ken Herar, 6-4, 6-4.
In men's singles action, Wood topped Herar in the final to win the crown.
The women's doubles match was postponed until this coming weekend.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

After winning the men's singles title for 18 years, my legs gave out.

Wood wins single's title after Herar forfeits

Brandon Wood became the men's single champion Monday afternoon after Ken Herar retired before the start of the third set at the annual Mission Tennis Club's year end tournament.
After losing the first set 2-6, Wood came back strong to take the second, 6-4, and ultimately earned the trophy for 2012.
The mixed doubles saw defending champs Mark and Val Gervais retain their title, defeating Craig Sciankowy and Lorraine Berkey, 6-0, 6-0.
On Sunday the women's single saw a new champion crowned after Val Gervais beat Tanis Sanford, 6-1, 6-4. The men's double draw team of Mark Gervais and Nick Borzelli defeated Ken Herar and Brandon Wood, 6-4, 6-4. The women's double has been delayed due to scheduling issues. Results are still unknown.
For more information on the club, call Mark at 604-826-2586.

No one is an "import on or off the field.


Don't kick around "import" lightly

People often like to point the finger at each other quickly without taking the appropriate time to digest the facts.
An example presented itself with the four import rule used in the Indo-Canadian Soccer tournament in Surrey.
Surrey's Debbie Christiansen is the soccer mom who lodged a complaint after her son's team was challenged by the opposing team's coach at the semi-final stage of the tournament for having too many import players.
The team her son was on went to the final but gave the win to the opposing team to avoid the $500 fine.
During some of the discussions I've had about this controversial rule, people like to jump the gun and make unfair accusations ("look at them, they're racist, too").
Pointing fingers at each other is not how we're going to overcome discrimination.
Unfortunately, doing so only creates more hate and bad feelings towards each other.
In the past, I have spoken about this particular topic on many occasions and encouraged ethnic leagues to reach out of their silos and become more diverse.
I recall a conversation with a former Canadian National soccer team staff member.
He shared with me that the Indo-Canadians are some of the best soccer players in town and should be representing Abbotsford instead of their own leagues.
I remember playing on an Indo-Canadian soccer team in Abbotsford that played against other local mainstream teams.
I enjoyed being part of the team and I have no regrets.
But the issue remains that having ethnic leagues, or any form of ethnic clubs, is that it limits our reach into a multicultural society.
Frankly, living here in the Lower Mainland and thinking like we did 30 years ago in how we celebrate our diversity is not going to work in today's environment.
I understand that ethnic groups want to maintain their own sense of culture and community and that's a beautiful concept.
The South Asian ethnic community is one of the fastest growing populations in British Columbia. I personally believe that organizers need to recognize that South Asians are not the minority in many occasions on or off the field, and need to be more inclusive in how we engage with each other.
If we're going to celebrate our diversity in Canada, no one should be referred to as an "import."
I had the opportunity to speak with Rav Dosanjh on this topic. He said, "I started playing as a kid in Abbotsford in 1975 and started coaching in the Abbotsford Soccer Association as a teenager in 1983.
"Regarding the soccer league, it is open to everyone. I have kids playing in that league. All types of kids playing in the league from various backgrounds.
"There are even teams that are predominantly Caucasian with a couple of Indo-Canadians.
Originally the temples started the tournaments as far back as I can remember going back to the mid-1970s.
"There is a restriction on some of the tournaments taking place. Originally the intention was for the good of the Indo-Canadian youth. It was not meant with any malice towards the rest of the community."
Dosanjh states that there are other communities that do the very same thing that the South Asian community has done in Surrey, and he wonders why there is so much focus and sensationalism directed towards South Asians.
- Ken Herar is a freelance columnist with the Times. Contact him at

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Cycling4Diversity displayed at The Reach Gallery.


Diverse Exhibition!

Cycling4Diversity exhibition is being displayed at The Reach Gallery from Aug 21st-Sept 7th 2012 in Abbotsford showcasing their ride that took place on May 22nd-May 25th from Mission to Victoria, lead by founder and Link columnist Ken Herar.