Friday, December 27, 2013

Cycling4Diversity Foundation visits The South Asian Link newspaper office in Surrey

Cycling4Diversity Visits LINK!
Members of the Cycling4Diversity team led by its founder Ken Herar which included esteemed poet Ashok Bhargava, British Columbia Regiment Commander Lt. Col. Harjit Singh Sajjan, PR maven Rina Gill joined LINK editor R. Paul Dhillon for a picture at the LINK offices in Surrey on Friday. It is part of C4D's community outreach initiative and the LINK thanks the team for paying us a special holiday visit.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Lets talk about diversity during the holiday season.

COLUMN: Holidays a good time to speak about diversity

December 21, 2013 · Updated 11:55 AM
0 Comments There is no better time than the Christmas season to have wonderful discussions as family members from near and far gather to enjoy the festive time. As the New Year approaches, parents should take the time to speak to their children about how beneficial it is to celebrate diversity outside of their own culture and vice versa.
In some families, the children understand it, but the parents don’t. If this is the case, it’s important for the children to stand up and correct their parents in how their family can become more welcoming in establishing cross-cultural relationships. Communication is often the key element to breaking down these barriers.
In the spirit of celebration and giving, it’s also a beautiful time to develop diverse friendships. One of the things that often surprise me is I rarely see people from different backgrounds walking together in our community. And if I do, it sure brings a smile to my face. For how large our multicultural community is, I should be witnessing this more often. I recall growing up in the area and it would be a common occurrence to see many people from our diverse population together. So, why the drastic shift? Well, there are many theories and one is parents sometimes have influences on their children on who they can keep as their friends. I know it’s hard to imagine, but it’s real and must change. Segregating on racial profiling is not how cultural diversity is celebrated.
A few of the students who wrote into the Abbotsford News School Diversity Essay Contest, which we held recently, shared some examples of isolation occurring at their schools in how students interact with each other. In this day and age, there is simply no excuse, not to have a diverse group of friends. If your son or daughter doesn’t have a diverse circle of friends, maybe it’s time to sit down and discuss how this can encouraged. Pointing the blame on a certain group is easy to do, but it’s not going to help and improve the situation. My parents growing up always supported us to have a diverse group of friends to do activities with. I remember when this lady shared this unique story with me. She said: “I was visiting this country where there was no diversity and couldn’t wait to come back to Abbotsford where we are so enriched with diversity from people all over the world.”
One of ways to improve this situation is to move away from ethnic communities creating their own sports teams or leagues. It may appear to be a good investment, but in the long haul the entire community loses out and creates tunnel vision for everyone involved. Diversity is about including people into your lives, not excluding them.
Ken Herar writes monthly on diversity issues.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Abbotsford News Essay & Colouring Contest with Cycling4Diversity Foundation

The results from the Abbotsford News Diversity Challenge School Essay Contest are in. After sifting through close to three hundred colouring contest and hundred essay entries the judges have narrowed it down to the top three for each category. They are two winners from Mission and four from Abbotsford. The choices weren’t easy to make; many students displayed strong efforts, either through their pens or crayons in showcasing what multicultural means to their heart. The purpose of this contest was not solely to pick winners, but to tap into our youth and create a discussion on we can connect our various cultures, here in the Fraser Valley together. I am proud to say, these students get what multiculturalism means and live it through their activities. Its always exciting to phone the parents and hear the joy in the phone notifying them that their child was selected as a winner. The kids are equally just as excited to hear the news.    
 The Cycling4Diversity Foundation team had the opportunity to visit 10 schools in the Abbotsford/Mission area speaking about cultural diversity and to encourage students to be part of this contest. Many schools had the entire class participate, which is a wonderful way to celebrate multiculturalism with your fellow classmates. The future looks bright and I was personally honoured to be part of it all for the past two months. 
The winners from colouring contest are as follows ages (5-10): Tamanna Gill (Abbotsford), Hannah Barker (Mission) and Scarlett Verbeek (Abbotsford). The winners from the essay contest are as follows ages (11-13): Isabella T (Mission), Aneesha Kaur Sran (Abbotsford) and Oleg Moskvin (Abbotsford). The question we posed for the 300 word essay contest was: What does multiculturalism mean to you and your family? Here is a quick snapshot of what some of these winners had to say. Isabella T said: “ Multiculturalism means no one culture, race, religion is any more important or better, than any other culture, race or religion. We are all created equal. Different, but equal.”
 Aneesha Kaur Sran said: “ Multiculturalism means that we are introduced to new activities and traditions. Multiculturalism is the state of where someone like me won’t be afraid to accept their own culture because they are afraid of what others will think or if they will be accepted. Multiculturalism  means that I will be free to be myself and live my culture in my own cultural identity.”
Oleg Moskvin, who came from Russia seven years ago enjoys his Canadian multicultural experience with his family, meeting people from all backgrounds and dining at restaurants from all parts of the globe. He said: “ Having multiculturalism in Abbotsford is a great opportunity to explore different kinds of cultures. In Russia, you don’t really see any other people than Russian or Ukrainian people.”     
I would like to thank the judges, who participated in this process and for their insight: Kris Foulds,  Deesh Sekhon, Rick Rake, Carol Hamilton and  Harwant Brar. Also, I would like to acknowledge Abbotsford Coun. Lester Barkman and Norm MacLeod for joining us at some the schools and being part of the Cycling4Diversity Foundation family. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Abbotsford News & Cycling4Diversity School Essay Contest

COLUMN: Record number of entries for student essay contest

Diversity by Ken Herar
Many celebrations have taken place this past month, celebrating our local cultural landscape. Diwali, which was just celebrated this past week at many locations, homes and throughout the globe, was also recognized in Mission with festivities Oct. 29 at Clarke Theatre, and in Abbotsford at Abbotsford Community Library, last weekend. Speaking with Balbir Gill, he said, “We estimated at least 1,200 people came for the event and it was great to expose the library.”
Diwali has grown locally to become a mainstream community occasion and it’s celebrated in schools, workplaces and residences. I recall when celebrations were held in classrooms, and now thousands of people attend the annual event.
The traditions of Diwali, known as the “festival of lights,” are a tribute to the ancient tale of good triumphing over evil. People light small lamps and display fireworks to celebrate the occasion worldwide.
The province of B.C. recently proclaimed Oct. 11 as “Every Girl Matters Day” to coincide with the United Nations’ “Day of the Girl.” Deesh Sekhon of GirlKIND said, “I personally think that this proclamation sends a strong message throughout B.C. and Canada and even the rest of the world. As a province, who believes in equal rights and opportunities for girls. A province that stands up to injustices that girls face in their own local backyards, as well as our global backyards.”
After visiting eight schools with members from the Cycling4Diversity team and Hawkey from the Abbotsford Heat, the Abbotsford News Diversity Challenge School Essay and Colouring Contest deadline is tomorrow. Entries can be emailed to Both contests can be picked up at the Abbotsford News and the 300-word essay question is: What does multiculturalism mean to you and your family?
The essay is open to middle school children and the colouring is for elementary school children only.
So far, we have had a record number of entries and judging will take place in the coming weeks. All winners will be notified when results are finalized.
Mission’s Ken Herar writes weekly on diversity issues.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Naranjan Grewall - Making history in the Fraser Valley in the 1950's

By Ken Herar.
It was recently brought to my attention that a provincial political party does not want any more South Asian candidates representing them in the May election.
I don’t know how true this is, but it’s nevertheless shocking to say
the least. This brings us to a bigger question here at home: Is it
time the voters of the Fraser Valley considered electing a South Asian
to Victoria or Ottawa?
It would be historical to say the least, and it would bring diverse
voices from various communities that are rapidly growing in the area.
Unfortunately, the Fraser Valley region has always struggled to get
elected ethnic representation to public office.
One example of this would be Abbotsford Coun. Moe Gill, who ran
unsuccessfully for a civic seat for decades, finally getting elected
in the mid 1990s.
Until a city like Abbotsford, one of most diverse communities in
Canada, elects someone from the South Asian community (the largest
visible minority group in the area) to a senior level of government,
the cultural divide will continue to exist in some shape or form.
Holding key leadership positions certainly changes the perception of
how people view certain communities.
It would be historical to see one of the three South Asians vying for
a political seat this year here in the central Fraser Valley actually
capture a nod in the upcoming provincial election. Can Lakhvinder
Jhaj, Sukhi Dhami or Preet Rai accomplish this enormous task?
Anything is possible when it comes to B.C. politics, and I believe
they realize the task before them. In a nutshell, too many South Asian
candidates have ran provincially and federally in the past, but were
never in a position to win in the first place and this must also
NGrewallI am not suggesting we strictly vote on someone’s ethnicity, but if
there is an opportunity to bring new voices and ethnic backgrounds
into the political spectrum, the entire community benefits.
For this become a reality, there has to be stronger unity within the
South Asian community.
Rai said: “I am excited about my chances in the upcoming elections and
will have to work very hard. I am a true believer in diversity and
want to represent the entire community, and I want to listen to all
the voices in the community.
“If you find me in campaigning on the streets or in the community door
knocking, feel free to speak with me about any concerns”.
The closest the Valley has come to getting a South Asian candidate
elected to Victoria was in 1956 when former Mission mayor Naranjan
Grewall almost defeated former Socred labour minister Lyle Wicks for
the Dewdney seat.
Some even say he won that election and lost it due to vote tampering.
Six years earlier, he was first elected to Mission council, making him
the first visible minority and Indo-Canadian elected to public office
in this country.
He was later nominated as a provincial candidate for the Cooperative
Commonwealth Federation, also making him the first visible minority to
run as a candidate in Canada.
All told, it’s a wonderful part of Canadian history we can all be proud of.
Ken Herar 
Ken Herar is a columnist and community activist in the cause of cultural diversity.

Cycling4Diversity 2013

Cycling4Diversity – The Journey Begins Again

By on May 20, 2013
Cycling4Diversity (Left to Right) Rick Lucy and Ken Herar two members from the C4D team seated in front brought the Dasmesh Punjabi School and Matsqui Elementary school kids together for a Rally for their upcoming ride from Victoria to Abbotsford on May 21st to May 24th. Cycling4Diversity team will be finishing its ride on May 24th at The Reach Gallery Musuem in Abbotsford and a celebration is being held from 6-7pm. The public is welcome to attend to celebrate Cycling4Diversity Week in our province from May 19th-May 25th
The Cycling4Diversity team will begin its 4-day journey on May 21st pedaling from Victoria and will finish the trek in Abbotsford on May 24th at The Reach Gallery Museum with an event called “Rally in the Valley for Cultural Diversity” from 6-7pm. The 3rd Annual C4D ride will be visiting 14 cities and making 27 stops along route. An exciting schedule is planned with the team stopping at 19 schools and four of them at universities/colleges.
Photo: Cycling4Diversity – See full photo and description below.
After months and months of planning we are excited to kick off this initiative and our prepared to speak to thousands of people on topics of: cultural diversity, inclusion and racism. Looking back, I only intended to do the ride once back in 2011, but through the encouragement and vision of Co- founder Sarina Di Martino Derksen we have turned this into an annual event.
If you recall what initiated me in starting this event was when I was not allowed to attend a Christmas party in 2010 due to me being from South Asian decent. This particular incident was the final straw for me personally, but they were also emails that I received before that readers shared on how our various communities are not connected and are growing further apart.
Di Martino Derksen said, “ we are really looking forward to making our way throughout the communities visiting and speaking with all those who come out and join in with C4D in spreading the team message and celebrating cultural diversity. The support within our communities has been tremendous and we are humbled and thankful. We would like to personally thank all the sponsors that have come forward to donate and make this ride possible. ”
Cycling4Diversity began 2011 to celebrate World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development on May 21st, a day proclaimed by the United Nations. In 2012, the C4D team made 40 stops and received several proclamations from various levels of governments. Embracing cultural diversity means understanding, mutual respect, and inclusion. I often get asked if I think racism still exists today. I become extremely puzzled when I hear this thought. Actually, racism hasn’t changed and its not just a black and white issue. We are seeing it coming from all angles and unfortunately hate still exists. We all have to step up as one community and do better. One of the things I often share during Cycling4Diversity in British Columbia from May 19th- May 25th is we ask people to reflect on their prejudges and biases and see if they can be corrected and changed.
Cycling4Diversity offers opportunities for learning, dialogue and discussions on the benefits of cultural diversity and the importance of eliminating racism.
Cycling4Diversity unites multicultural communities through the sharing of personal experiences, which creates an environment of mutual trust and understanding. The C4D team works to bridge cultural communities and create dialogue, breaking down perceived barriers.
The C4D team seeks to foster intercultural relationships by encouraging students and citizens to expand their circle of friends. By connecting with people from various backgrounds, showing respect for differences and encouraging inclusion in their schools and communities. Some of the local team members include: Abbotsford Deputy Police Chief Rick Lucy, Abbotsford City Coun. Bill MacGregor, Anoop Tatlay, Preet Rai, Terry Stobbart ,Aaron Levy and Harold Derksen.
Please visit Cycling for Diversity 2011 on Facebook, or follow us during the ride on Cycle4Diversity on Twitter or
Cycling4Diversity (Left to Right) Rick Lucy and Ken Herar two members from the C4D team seated in front brought the Dasmesh Punjabi School and Matsqui Elementary school kids together for a Rally for their upcoming ride from Victoria to Abbotsford on May 21st to May 24th. Cycling4Diversity team will be finishing its ride on May 24th at The Reach Gallery Musuem in Abbotsford and a celebration is being held from 6-7pm. The public is welcome to attend to celebrate Cycling4Diversity Week in our province from May 19th-May 25th
Cycling4Diversity (Left to Right) Rick Lucy and Ken Herar two members from the C4D team seated in front brought the Dasmesh Punjabi School and Matsqui Elementary school kids together for a Rally for their upcoming ride from Victoria to Abbotsford on May 21st to May 24th. Cycling4Diversity team will be finishing its ride on May 24th at The Reach Gallery Musuem in Abbotsford and a celebration is being held from 6-7pm. The public is welcome to attend to celebrate Cycling4Diversity Week in our province from May 19th-May 25th

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cycling4Diversity Foundation featured in " Racism in Paradise"

Cycling4Diversity Foundation comments on "Racism in Paradise" series.


Bringing communities together ... by bike


One reader has started Cycling4Diversity Week, an initiative to foster intercultural relationships


Being a local columnist for the past 18 years in the Abbotsford and Mission area, and focusing on cultural diversity and racism issues, I wanted to share my story from a Fraser Valley perspective being one of the most diverse regions in the country.
I was stopped the other day and was asked as to why I would promote multiculturalism in a Punjabi School during an essay contest I was promoting and speaking about. I replied: "The main reason that brought me to this fine school was not only to promote multiculturalism and this contest, but to share in a discussion with some bright minds on finding ways that the South Asian community could be more inclusive with mainstream society."
I told the class that the "cultural divide" in Abbotsford is growing quickly and we all have a responsibility to be part of the larger community when we leave through these school doors each day. I shared examples of how to make it happen, like inviting kids from outside our own ethnicity to their homes for events like birthday parties.
Lastly, I told them they have a special role and part of the equation in creating an inclusive, diverse society. I concluded with this thought: "We all have it within us. We just have to discover it."
Another friend shared how she and her family went back to Montreal for a few weeks in the summer and found the city to be very integrated and friendly. Much more than here, she noted.
"People are very separate from each other in the West," she said, adding that her daughter came home crying one day because at school South Asian kids wouldn't play with her. For as much as I don't like to admit it. I know these examples are real.
As someone shared with me a few years ago: "Ken, when I come to Abbotsford, I can
feel racism."
This is the exact reason why I took my message to the South Asian community. The main reason why the "cultural divide"
in Canada has continued to grow is because we have allowed it to, and our elected officials have paid very little attention to the matter.
In the next 20 years, if Canadians do not tackle or change the course of action, the cultural polarization will continue to spread.
We're at a crucial turning point where we can build bridges and strengthen partnerships within our communities or face the consequences of growing isolation.
I recall getting gas in North Vancouver a few years back and went to pay the attendant and asked him, it must be nice living up here. He replied: "Yes, just moved up here from Abbotsford." I replied, "that's a big move."
He said: "I moved my family up here because we lived in a South Asian neighbourhood and nobody would speak to me or my family."
After being denied to go to a Christmas party in 2010 for being East Indian I knew something had to be done to highlight some of these growing concerns.
In 2011 I founded Cycling4Diversity, where our team went to schools in the Lower Mainland and spoke to students about cultural diversity, racism and inclusion. Cycling4Diversity unites multicultural communities through the sharing of personal experiences, which creates an environment of mutual trust and understanding.
During Cycling4Diversity Week in B.C., which is held every May, the C4D team seeks to foster intercultural relationships by encouraging students and citizens to expand their circle of friends by connecting with people from various backgrounds, showing respect for differences and encouraging inclusion in their schools and communities.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Cycling4Diversity Foundation team being welcomed into the schools by students

Cycling4Diversity gets ready for the Big ride in 2013

                                                                                     John Morrow Photo 
Getting motivated for the Big ride. Cycling4Diversity team members include: (from left) Ken Herar, Sarina Di Martino Derksen, Aaron Levy, Kris Foulds, Deputy Mayor Bill MacGregor and Deputy Police Chief Rick Lucy.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cycling4Diversity Foundation makes a generous donation towards hit & run victim

Police look for suspects in hit and run

A 13-year-old Mission girl is spending the last week of her summer holidays helping a friend replace his bicycle after being involved in a hit and run incident last Wednesday.
When Jordyn Paige Donohue heard her schoolmate Tanner Whymark was knocked off his bike at the intersection of Hyde Street and Bracken Avenue by a truck, she didn't hesitate to help. The incident left Whymark with a broken ankle, bruises and other minor injuries. His bike was crushed.
Donohue set up a Facebook page, Let's Help Tanner Get a New Bike, to raise awareness and collect donations to buy Whymark a new mountain bike once he's well enough to ride again. The group already has more than 300 members.
Donohue says what happened to her friend makes her "sad and sick. Why would you hit a kid and just leave him?
"I hope he gets well soon."
Whymark's mom, Michelle, says her son. who loved to ride and tinker with his bike every day, is "very sore" and has a long road ahead of him.
"We're taking it day by day," she said, adding numerous medical appointments are on the horizon.
"He's very upset about his bike, which is toast."
Both mother and son are thankful for what Donohue is doing.
"Jordyn has a big, huge heart and she's an amazing girl. It's very touching."
A trust account has been set up at Prospera Credit Union to collect donations. The account number is 3216397.
Mission RCMP say the hit and run happened around 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 21. They are now looking for the truck and its three occupants who fled from the scene. The suspect vehicle is described as a newer black Ford F150 with silver trim.
Anyone with information about the hit and run is asked to contact Mission RCMP at 604-826-7161. If you wish to remain anonymous please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. A cash reward of up to $2,000 will be paid for any information which leads to an arrest and charge.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Returning back to the Abbotsford News & Mission City Record as a columnist

COLUMN: Cultural writing journey continues

On the Spot by Ken Herar
I am very excited about this opportunity to be back with the Abbotsford News and Mission City Record to continue our focus on cultural diversity.
When I started this writing journey way back in 1995 with Black Press, I would have never imagined that 18 years later I would be still on these pages.
So what keeps me plugging away?
It’s the people in the community who you get to engage with on a daily basis on how we can celebrate our cultural diversity and still remain inclusive in our neighbourhoods, sports teams and workplaces.
We speak a lot about our cultural diversity in Canada and there much to celebrate, but there is still an active void that needs to be filled.
In recent years, I am hearing more and more that our communities are becoming more culturally isolated and are various ethnic groups are not involved in mainstream activities like they were in past decades.
I will be exploring this issue along with many other exciting topics in my monthly column in the News and Record. If you feel you have something to say or comment, email at the address below.
As the Founder of Cycling4Diversity Foundation, my teammates and I had the opportunity to showcase our work and message at our booth at AbbyFest last Saturday in Abbotsford.
It was a fabulous day with many visitors expressing an interest to be part of our dynamic team and joining us to deliver our message at future events.
Preet Rai, who is a AbbyFest director, said: “As always, it was a huge success with the help of all the volunteers, performers and community partners.
“The attendance from the community was good and as always we are striving to achieve to get better.”
“Since Abbotsford is very multicultural, it is always great to see people from different cultures and some dressed up in their cultural clothing. We hope to see everyone in 2014.”
Interested in hearing the perspectives of those “new to Canada” in Mission?
Rick Rake of Click Media Works is working with Laura Hope of Mission Community Services Society, artist Mike Hayes and filmmaker Ian Low to create a dynamic folder of information that includes a specially produced 12-minute film featuring people from around the world who settled in the community.
The folder, with an attractive blue and white digitized map of the world on its cover, is titled:  “Welcoming New Canadians, The Mission Perspective.”
It will be shared with hundreds of community leaders from business, education, service clubs and other organizations in written form and online to help make the community more welcoming to immigrants and increase awareness and understanding of settlement and immigration issues in Mission, where 14 per cent of its citizens are from another country.
“Our focus is to build and sustain a strong, inclusive, welcoming community,” said Rake, who is a former Black Press newspaper editor in Mission and Abbotsford.
The Abbotsford News and Cycling4Diversity Foundation are proud to again be hosting the Abbotsford News Diversity Challenge School Essay Contest.
There is a 300-word essay contest for middle school children and a colouring contest for elementary kids.
The essay question is: “ What does multiculturalism mean to you and your family?” The deadline for both contests is Nov.1.
For further information, email me and I can provide you with both forms.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cycling4Diversity: Breaking down cultural walls that isolate us


Diversity: Practise what you preach

What I find in many cases is many of us speak a lot about (cultural) diversity, but very few people practise or live this very topic.
When I speak with people in the community or with various community representatives, they are often surprised to learn what some of the current issues are that we face right here in our own back yard.
The Cycling4Diversity team, which I was fortunate to be a part of, delivered a message to thousands of people throughout 14 communities that cultural diversity is not solely dancing to your own music beats, but including the environment that is around you.
Reflecting back on my 18 years as a columnist in the local area, which I will be celebrating this month, I have met very few people that you could call "diverse."
Recently on our C4D ride in May, team member Anoop Tat-lay said, "My cousin is a different race than me, my friends are different races than me, my child is a different race than me."
Touching, and a perfect example of what it means to be diverse, at least in my opinion.
When our C4D team was on the B.C. ferry heading to Victoria on May 21 - which was also World Day for Cultural Diversity - we unexpectedly had the opportunity to speak to a class of elementary school children from Surrey.
After our presentation on the ferry, a father approached me and said that what we all spoke about was very true.
"My daughter is often isolated from activities from fellow students because she does not belong to the dominant cultural group that makes up her class," he said.
Families are instrumental in how successfully diverse our communities become.
It is the parents' duty to raise their children to understand what diversity is and the importance diversity plays in making a community successful.
If parents fail to understand this concept, then children need to rise up and share this value with them.
The sad reality in all of this is the cultural isolation within our many multi-ethnic communities is growing and we all need to step up and change this direction.
The entire Cycling4Diversity team was very honoured to deliver this message and we're grateful for the support we received to make our event successful.
A great addition to this year's ride was having cycling jerseys for our riders (sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Abbotsford).
They really identified our team on the road and in the schools.
The C4D team is planning on doing more rides throughout the year and is proud to wear these jerseys.
"We are grateful and overwhelmed by the incredible support and generosity from all the people and organizations that came forward to sponsor our message this year," C4D co-founder Sarina Di Martino Derksen said.
"Our message is all about team work within our communities and our sponsors for three years in a row have demonstrated what partnering together can accomplish.
"If it were not for our sponsors and volunteers the message would not have been able to be delivered to the vast amount of people we reached."
 Kulwinder (Ken) Herar writes about community diversity issues for the Abbotsford-Mission Times.
 Email him at

Monday, June 17, 2013

Cycling4Diversity team members reflect on the C4D initiative

The understanding and celebration of both cultural diversity and inclusivity is, in my mind, the single greatest challenge for the world community today! We absolutely MUST "seek first to understand and then be understood" in order to have a peace that is everlasting. The maligning of others because they happen to be different than I is a product of profound and unacceptable ignorance. I must change and so too must everyone of you who struggle to accept others because they are different whether that be culture, age, gender, religion, appearance or any other self imposed barrier. There is one race the human race. Let us celebrate together.
Dr. Bill MacGregor
City of Abbotsford
The future success of our communities and societies depends on the foundation we build in our young people today. It’s so important for all of us to encourage and empower one another to make positive changes regarding attitudes of racism and discrimination through cultural inclusiveness and the development of a non-discriminatory mindset. This is why initiatives such as Cycling4Diversity can be such a positive force in our communities – it works to unite people across different generations and backgrounds by creating awareness of the cultural importance of equality and diversity.

Harold Derksen
Bible Translator/Editor
Diversity without inclusion is an ingredient's list without a recipe. Diversity does not automatically produce intercultural understanding nor an environment free from discrimination. Every day in our BC communities, a youth faces racism based on his or her skin colour or ancestry. Every day, an immigrant faces challenges in securing a job based on their name or foreign experience. Every day, homophobia & transphobia prevents people from expressing who they are. We can do better than this, with a recipe for intercultural dialogue, education & exposure. This is why I believe in the mission of Cycling4Diversity- to share the value of inclusion with students & decision makers (education), to hear from the next generation as to what their challenges & solutions are (dialogue) & to model diversity within our team (exposure). Inclusive communities requires intention, commitment & opportunities to better understand one another. 
Lindsay Marsh, M.A.
Diversity & Inclusion Specialist
National Program Coordinator (Safe Harbour: Respect for All)
From  day one I believed in Ken and Sarina's initiative towards Cycling4Diversity.
My message  to everybody is that an individual can keep his/her language, culture, appearance and religion also other beliefs and yet be diverse, extend your boundaries of friendship with the people of other cultures. Also I try my best to eradicate racism from the youth. I extend to our C4D team my full cooperation in their good work.
 Kulwinder Singh Dhillon
Self Employed/Entrepreneur

Underlying any of my endeavours is the desire to include all people.  I've continually observed a wealth of ingenuity, intellect, and willingness in our communities that is unrecognized, untapped, and unharnessed because of things like sexism, racism, and numerous other forms of discrimination.  These barriers sustain marginalization and exclusivity, and they are unacceptable.

C4D is a group with ideals that align with my beliefs about diverse people working together to spark a change in the attitudes surrounding all of our differences.  Everyone has something to contribute; everyone is valuable.  Of all of the qualities we strive for, the thing I find most valuable in people is an openness and kindness of heart: something that surpasses all of our differences, unites us, and let's us celebrate diversity.
 Anoop Tatlay
Student of Life

 Very humbled to be included in such a diverse group of individuals to share the message of diversity.  Personal experiences throughout my life have shown me that people have the greatest ability to overcome challenges and diversity, when give the encouragement.  Young people are our best hope to change old habits, and old fears. We, as adults, need to step up and be examples of that and to share that even when faced with hardships, we do have the power within us to change the negative in our lives. Diversity isn't just about race, religion or culture, it can also be about gender, disability, or mental health challenges as well.  We, as a human race, need to practice ways of being more compassionate to our fellow human beings, and I believe that this initiative, Cycling 4 Diversity, is one way for us to start making that step at a time.
 Terry Stobbart
 Community Activist

 Cycling4Diversity is an initiative that has been supported by everyone who it has been presented to, from citizens, to schools, to municipalities, to the provincial government, and to the generous donors who help make it possible. The reason it is so widely accepted a project is that no one can deny the value of promoting the integration and development of relationships between the vast variety of backgrounds that we as Canadian's represent.
Beyond our race, religion and ethnic background, lie a world of invisible characteristics that make us all unique and valuable and important for the success of inclusive and successful communities, driven by the desire to provide a better present and future, and to achieve more understanding of the meaningful struggles and accomplishments of our past. 
Without dialogue, the development of diversity is impossible, and the grass roots networking of Cycling4Diversity between the different groups represented on the ride, and in the communities and groups visited, helps to encourage that dialogue and promote that ideal in a pure and effective way. By telling our own stories, and listening to each others, we can demonstrate what the benefits of diversity and integration are to people who may only be starting to understand it, and ensure that the positive effects of diversity in our communities will be felt and built upon.

Aaron Levy
Station Manager
101.7 FM
CIVL Radio

University of the Fraser Valley
Abbotsford, BC

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The future looks bright for Cycling4Diversity

C4D team spreads message of inclusion


The third annual Cycling4Diversity tour was again a huge success.
The C4D team traveled on a four-day journey, visiting 14 communities with 27 stops from Victoria to Abbotsford from May 21 - 24.
The team of eight to 10 riders along with five support staff delivered a message of celebrating our cultural existence, and encouraged dialogue and ways to be inclusive with people of various backgrounds.
What I said in many of my presentations during Cycling4Diversity Week (May 19 - 25 in B.C.) is that we need to build stronger cross-cultural discussion into our neighbourhoods, workplaces and sports teams.
This is something we haven't done very well and should always remain our primary focus as we move forward.
As someone who is on the front lines on this topic and being a columnist for 18 years, I am hearing more and more that our multi-ethnic communities are not connected and isolation is unfortunately growing.
Needless to say, there are many fantastic people and organizations doing exceptional work, but more citizens need to get involved to spread this message.
This is one of the main reasons Sarina Di Martino Derksen and I started C4D: to capture the imagination and create discussion around this very important topic.
I am amazed how well the idea has been received by all levels of governments, schools and the business community.
I had only intended to do the ride once back in 2011, but with encouragement, Cycling4Diversity continues to grow more each year.
This dialogue is not just needed here in B.C., but also across our nation.
A prime example is in Quebec, where soccer players are banned for wearing turbans.
Team member Anoop Tatlay said, "I have felt a strong need to connect our communities and promote a more respectful attitude toward our differences."
Cycling4Diversity is the perfect forum for this goal . . . and it's a bonus because I love to cycle.
"During the recent tour, it was powerful to see how our own very diverse group came together to tell our individual stories about discrimination and deliver our messages of hope to countless people. I'm certain that we're making a tangible difference," said Lindz Marsh.
"I was thrilled to join the C4D team this year as the ride's message of supporting cultural diversity, standing up against discrimination, and supporting intercultural understanding.
"I loved hearing one student's dream of transforming her grandfather's perception of Muslims and learning how many languages are spoken in one Richmond elementary school.
"I felt that our C4D team embodied Gandhi's vision - be the change - as we encouraged students of all ages to reflect," said Marsh.
Team member Terry Stobbart shared her thoughts.
"I had the pleasure of driving for the C4D team. They have come to be my inspiration to move forward and to spread the message of what diversity is, can, and will be.
"As we all started out, we didn't know one another. But by the end of four days, 14 cities, 27 stops, and reaching out to hundreds of young people, the group came together as a team and gained new friends along the way," she said.
"One moment that stands out to me was when an entire gym full of elementary school students were asked to turn to one another, shake hands, and introduce themselves.
"Acceptance is as simple as that."
? Kulwinder (Ken) Herar writes about community diversity issues for the Abbotsford-Mission Times. Contact him at


Special thanks to the Tri-Cities communities for supporting Cycling4Diversity



We would like to take the opportunity to thank the Tri-Cities communities for supporting the third-annual Cycling4Diversity (C4D) ride that pedalled through your communities on May 23 during Cycling4Diversity Week in BC from May 19 to 25.
Proclamations followed from the cities of Port Moody and Port Coquitlam. The support and the kindness that was shown to our team by all the mayors, police forces and schools were fantastic. We were honoured to have all mayors ride with us through each of their respective communities including, a Port Moody police officer. The day started out with Mayor Mike Clay riding with us from Port Moody City Hall to Port Moody Secondary under a police escort offered by Port Moody police where police chief Chris Rattenbury was present with students. The C4D team then rode to Coquitlam to meet Mayor Richard Stewart, who kindly rode with us to Port Coquitlam where we met Mayor Greg Moore. He guided us to Riverside Secondary to speak to students on topics of cultural diversity, inclusion and racism.
The C4D team began its journey in Victoria on May 21 and finished in Abbotsford on May 24, visiting 19 schools throughout the four days. The Cycling4Diversity Foundation unites multicultural communities through the sharing of personal experiences, which creates an environment of respect, mutual trust and understanding. The C4D team works to bridge cultural communities and create dialogue, breaking down perceived barriers.
The C4D team seeks to foster intercultural relationships by encouraging students and citizens to expand their circle of friends, by connecting with people from various backgrounds, showing respect for differences and encouraging inclusion in their schools and communities.
Ken Herar, Founder and Sarina Di Martino Derksen, Co-founder


Friday, May 31, 2013

Cycling4Diversity visits Maple Ridge on tour

Cycling for racial tolerance, multiculturalism

By Phil Melnychuk - Maple Ridge News
Published: May 31, 2013 1:00 PM 
Updated: May 31, 2013 1:19 PM
Ken Herar likes to see people enjoy themselves and have a good time.
But one thing he notices when he’s in restaurants or in stores or walking down the street, is people still in their comfort zones.
South Asians hanging out with South Asians, white people with white, Asians with Asians.
People talk a lot about racial tolerance and multiculturalism, says Herar, organizer of the Cycling 4 Diversity.
But they don’t walk the walk, almost literally.
“I think people are comfortable in their own community.
“People get it (the concept of multiculturalism), but the problem is they don’t practise it.
“I rarely see a white person and a South Asian walking together. When I do, that really catches my eye. Rarely do I see a cross-cultural relationship. That’s really not good.”
That has to change because the demographics in the Lower Mainland are changing. In a few decades, those of European descent will be a minority. Newcomers as well must reach out, he added.
Herar’s been dealing with the issue of cultures clashing with each other for the last 20 years and has kept the e-mails and complaints from native-born Canadians and newcomers and people moving in and out of neighbourhoods because they feel excluded. Despite multicultural policies and efforts in schools, racism is still around – but no one is talking about it.
“We are 20 years too late talking about this conversation. It (racism) hasn’t changed. It’s still the same. It comes at you in different ways now.”
That’s why he started Cycling4Diversity, which just completed its third ride around the Lower Mainland and Victoria.
The crew visited 14 cities, speaking at schools and community groups about inclusion.
A recent development that bothers him is the ethnically based sports teams and leagues that have developed in the Lower Mainland. When he was growing up, kids from all ethnic groups played on the same team, representing the community. Now, the races are kept apart on the rosters.
“If I had children, I would say represent your town.” He’s tried to get that message to coaches, but it’s hard to change.
While kids of different groups mix together in school, that’s an artificial environment which doesn’t carry over to real life.
The cyclists took their message to Maple Ridge’s Westview secondary, but according to vice-principal Ian Liversidge, the group was preaching to the converted.
“The message is about, ‘Let’s be culturally aware and be welcoming of everybody we have in our midst’ – that message is well received and that message is well respected here.”
While neither Westview nor any Maple Ridge school has a large South Asian population, international students make up about 10 per cent of the student population.
“As any school in Maple Ridge, we’re certainly multi-ethnic.”
Liversidge says he’s taught in other cities where he knows the “lines of ethnicity can be strong” in some cases. But in the four years he’s been teaching in Maple Ridge, there hasn’t been a racist incident.
“There are kids that don’t get along with other kids and we solve that. I can’t think of a situation where the true source of the issue was the ethnicity.
“What was neat to see is somebody who’s message is, ‘We should be talking together regardless of where we come from.’ That message is a good message and a common message.”
The Abbotsford-based crew consisted of Herar, Sarina Di Martino Derksen, Aaron Levy, Kris Foulds, Abbotsford Mayor Bill MacGregor and Abbotsford deputy police chief Rick Lucy.
“We want people to reach out in their neighbourhoods and workplaces and sports teams to build that cross-cultural dialogue that is needed,” Herar said.

Vic News covers Cycling4Diversity team in Victoria.

Cultural diversity promoted by bicycling team

Diversity comes in many forms.
Examples in people range from differing sexual orientation and ethnic background to native language and skin colour.
Students at Sir James Douglas elementary listened last week to members of the Cycling4Diversity team, as part of its third annual bike trek promoting the removal of barriers to kindness and cultural understanding.
The group stopped at the Fairfield school on World Cultural Diversity Day, May 21, to talk about the importance of respecting and celebrating our differences.
“I tell my son when I drop him off for school, ‘do something kind for someone today,’” team rider and former high school principal, Bill MacGregor, told the assembled students.
Tour riders and organizers will have visited 14 communities and 19 schools between Victoria and its home base of Abbotsford by the time they return home. The team, with representatives from police, schools, politics and other sectors, also visited Vic High and Royal Roads University during their stop in Greater Victoria.
Ride co-founder Ken Herar said in an interview the idea for the ride came from observing people in his city, including youth, avoid socializing with outside their traditional ethnic groups.
“I thought, more work needs to be done to be inclusive,” he said. “As our immigrant population grows and we welcome the world, we cannot forget that if we sell ourselves to the world, we have to practice diversity.”
The messages put forward briefly by Cycling4Diversity members are not so different than those the children hear and practice on a regular basis at the school, Sir James Douglas principal Teri Wickes said.
“This fits perfectly with our whole focus on social responsibility,” she said, noting that recently the school held an anti-homophobic Rainbow Day.
From an ethnic standpoint, the school has a specialized learning program for the roughly 30 students of aboriginal descent, and promotes aboriginal cultural awareness throughout the school on a regular basis, Wickes said.
To her experience, younger children call each other on the use of racial slurs or ethnic discrimination. “Unlike adults, who might let (comments) slide, with kids it’s not OK right off the bat.”

The Cycling4Diversity team with Delta City Councillor Jeannie Kanakos