Friday, March 22, 2013

The 11th Annual Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards

Fraser Valley Diversity Awards Really About Everyone Who Works To Build Cultural Diversity Is A Winner

By Ken Herar
The 11th Annual Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards were a huge success with a sold out crowd in attendance at the Ramada Plaza & Conference Centre last Friday.
With 52 nominees from Langley, Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Mission there was no shortage of inspiring stories.  Having been both a nominee and a recipient of the Champion of Diversity Award in 2007, I know firsthand the feeling on both sides.
The heart of the matter is that everyone is a winner at these awards and it’s encouraging to see the work that is being done around cultural diversity. For those who did not get make it onto the stage, I encourage you to continue your work and to be that vehicle of awareness and commitment.
The recipients who were selected, I also encourage you to continue your leadership and be that ambassador for cultural diversity. The evening is a fabulous networking opportunity to meet diversity leaders from all parts of the Lower Mainland. Myself and Bob Soltis had the privilege of sitting next to Linda Rubuliak of the YMCA of Greater Vancouver and had many interesting conversations. With this connection, she was very interested in learning more how could work together on various projects in the near future.
The Guest of Honour for the evening was Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia and the Master of Ceremonies was Mark Forsythe from CBC Radio. Guests were entertained by Latin group YAD Cubano and Mike Bertness.
Some of the nominees in the five categories were: Eugene Reimer Middle School, WJ Mouat Secondary School, Suburban Swing, Cool Runnings, Khalsa Diwan Society, Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre, GirlKIND and Petcetera.
Now your probably wondering what is Petcetera have to do with anything around cultural diversity. Reading their description in the program booklet Petcetera is dedicated to animal welfare, reducing animal euthanasia and promoting responsible pet ownership. Petcetera also plays a large role in School District 33 Chilliwack Special Needs Work Experience program. As we can see cultural diversity is not just limited to people, but also animals and how we can celebrate both our existence together. Its encouraging to see the definition of cultural diversity constantly expanding to be more inclusive for everyone.
The recipients of the 2013 FVCDA are as follows: Inclusive
Environment- L.I.N.C ( Long-term inmates Now in the Community) Society. Marketing/Outreach (2 awards)  – Fraser Valley Child Development Centre and PriceSmart Foods Clearbrook. Reflective
Workforce- University of the Fraser Valley. Innovative Initiative- Man Turned to Stone T’xwelatse. Champion of Diversity- Francis Xavier Edwards of Mission.
Glen Flett from LINC said, “It was such an unexpected honor and a totally humbling moment. The work that LINC does is all about giving back. We don’t expect such an honor for doing what we should be doing-contributing to our community. “All of us at LINC are so grateful for the opportunities we are given and this award is very much appreciated. This grand demonstration of inclusion inspires us to join together to make a difference.”
Manpreet Grewal Manager, Multicultural & Immigrant Services at Abbotsford Community Services said, ” Cultural Diversity Awards brings us together as a community to recognize all the efforts being made to
make our communities inclusive.   It is a celebration of small steps
taken each day and we are grateful to our nominees for the work they do, everyone who comes out to support them and our sponsors and partners who make it happen.”
I asked Goldie Van Garderen, who was this years event coordinator what are the judging panel looking for in nominees? She said, “ The judges are asked to consider all aspects of cultural diversity – age, abilities, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and socio-economic background. Each individual category recognizes a unique quality of the nominees.”
Living in one of the diverse regions in the country there is so much to celebrate and be proud of here in the Fraser Valley.
Ken “Kulwinder” Herar is a Mission-based writer and a winner of the champions of diversity award for his columns in the LINK newspaper and other Fraser Valley newspapers. Herar can be reached at kenherar@gmail.com or view his blog at http://www.kenherar.blogspot.com

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A moment with British Columbia Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon at the 11th Annual Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards

 

Inclusion wins at Diversity Awards

 
The 11th annual Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards was a huge success with a sold out crowd at the Ramada Plaza and Conference Centre March 15.
With 52 nominees from Langley, Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Mission there was no shortage of inspiring stories. Everyone is a winner at these awards, and it's encouraging to see the work that is being done around cultural diversity.
"Cultural Diversity Awards bring us together as a community to recognize all the efforts being made to make our communities inclusive," said Manpreet Grewal, manager of multicultural and immigrant services at Abbotsford Community Services.
"It is a celebration of small steps taken each day and we are grateful to our nominees for the work they do, everyone who comes out to support them and our sponsors and partners who make it happen."
For those recipients who were selected, I encourage you to continue your leadership and be that ambassador for cultural diversity.
The evening was a fabulous networking opportunity to meet diversity leaders from over the Lower Mainland. The guest of honour was Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of B.C. and Mark Forsythe, of CBC Radio, was master of ceremonies.
Guests were entertained by Latin group YAD Cubano and Mike Bertness. Some nominees in the five categories were: Eugene Reimer Middle School, W.J. Mouat Secondary School, Suburban Swing, Cool Runnings, Khalsa Diwan Society, Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre, GirlKIND and Petcetera.
Now you're probably wondering what Petcetera has to do with cultural diversity. Petcetera is dedicated to animal welfare, reducing animal euthanasia and promoting responsible pet ownership. Petcetera also plays a large role in School District 33 Chilliwack Special Needs Work Experience program.
The recipients of the 2013 FVCDA are as follows: Inclusive Environment - L.I.N.C (Long-term Inmates Now in the Community) Society.
Marketing/Outreach (two awards) - Fraser Valley Child Development Centre and PriceSmart Foods Clear-brook. Reflective Workforce - University of the Fraser Valley. Innovative Initiative - Man Turned to Stone T'xwelatse. Champion of Diversity - Francis Xavier Edwards of Mission.
"It was such an unexpected honour and a totally humbling moment," said Glen Flett from L.I.N.C.
"The work is all about giving back. We don't expect such an honour for doing what we should be doing - contributing to our community.
"All of us at L.I.N.C are so grateful for the opportunities we are given. This grand demonstration of inclusion inspires us to join together to make a difference."
Living in one of the most diverse regions in the country, we can celebrate and be proud of the Fraser Valley.
? Ken Herar writes about diversity issues for the Abbotsford-Mission Times. Contact him at KenHerar@gmail.com.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cycling4Diversity Preet Rai & Ken Herar present Tamara Bridal with C4D t-shirt

Cycling4Diversity speaks with a group of pre-schoolers at You Care, We Care Daycare in Mission..

South Asian family receives hate mail in Chilliwack

 

Never an acceptable time for hate

I was disturbed, as were many others, to hear of a recent racist e-mail that was sent to a Chilliwack South Asian restaurant owner.
The sender, who has been identified, has apologized for his/her actions to the RCMP and claims mental health as an excuse.
However, businessman Lucky Gulati has yet to receive a formal apology about the incident and is not satisfied with this response.
Speaking with him over the telephone, he said the investigation is ongoing and may result in a hate crime charge.
The victim's home was also attacked with eggs and littered with chicken bones.
The e-mail reads: "On behalf of the citizens of Chilliwack, we do not want your people here. Your business [will] never succeed here . . . tell your people this is not a good place for them . . . there are good people here, good families and we don't need the folk from India and Surrey to pollute this city."
The long e-mail ends with: "We are trying to get away from you people. Let us be. We understand our government is s*** and that's the reason you come from a third-world country with nothing and live here with everything. Paid for by us Canadians out of our tax dollars to support your extended family that never intended to contribute to this country in the first place. We are sickened by this and we can't even stand to look at you. Let us live in peace without having to see your kind here."
I provided an ethnic newspaper looking for comment on the issue with this quote: "There should be no tolerance for hate crimes, and hate should never be accepted.
"That being said, if the sender of this hateful e-mail is genuinely apologizing to the Gulati family, he or she should be forgiven and both parties should move on."
I understand it is difficult to forgive people who commit distasteful acts against innocent people. But if a mutual understanding can be reached between two parties and something can be learned, the entire community prevails.
Hate should not cultivate even more hate.
Given their diverse populations, Abbotsford and Mission can be proud of the fact hate crimes are extremely rare in our region.
That does not mean hate doesn't exist amongst us, but there are many proactive programs and groups focused on spreading awareness about diversity, including in our school system, that are making a difference.
Some of these organizations will be showcased during the upcoming 10th annual Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards in Abbotsford on March 15.
I was invited this past week to speak to group of pre-schoolers at You Care, We Care Daycare in Mission on topics of diversity.
It never occurred to me that speaking to young kids at this age is just as valuable as working with older groups.
President and founder Tamara Bridal said: "It is very important to teach our children the importance of diversity.
"We may look different on the outside, but we are all the same on in the inside. I am a huge advocate of anti-bullying and I believe we need to start at an early age and teach our children the importance of treating everyone with respect."
 Ken Herar is a freelance columnist with the Abbotsford-Mission Times. Contact him via e-mail at kenherar@ gmail.com.