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 contests@abbynews.com. 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
change.
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 www.cycling4diversity.ca
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