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