Thursday, December 1, 2016

Racist video discussion on social media is a good thing, say community leaders

Racist video discussion on social media is a good thing, say community leaders

WARNING: 'Shocking' racial slurs and altercation captured on video

By Belle Puri, CBC News Posted: Oct 24, 2016 5:42 PM PT Last Updated: Oct 24, 2016 5:42 PM PT         
An unidentified man is captured on video shouting racial taunts in an Abbotsford parking lot, near a downtown area known as Five Corners.
An unidentified man is captured on video shouting racial taunts in an Abbotsford parking lot, near a downtown area known as Five Corners. (Vimeo)          

Abbotsford community leaders say it's a good thing people are talking about a video that shows a white man yelling racial slurs and offensive language in a downtown parking lot, because it's a good example of unacceptable behaviour
.
"I think the comments that are being generated are the best part, because it really shows peoples' overwhelming outrage for this type of behaviour," said Allan Asaph, the executive director of the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce.

"I think that's a very positive sign, that as a community, we are saying this is not acceptable."

Social media, said Asaph, is a good way to get out the message that opinions like those of the man in the video will not be tolerated.

Supportive community 

The vast majority of people in the Fraser Valley are supportive of diversity said Ken Herar, founder of the Cycle4Diversity campaign.

"People here in the Fraser Valley believe in diversity. Our community is built on diversity," said Herar.

"This kind of behaviour is not warranted here and that's the message I'm receiving on Facebook and social media."

An unidentified man is captured on video shouting racial taunts in an Abbotsford parking lot, near a downtown area known as Five Corners. (Vimeo)
       

Incidents not related 

Herar was among several Mission residents who earlier this month awoke to find a plastic bag with a flyer and some rice on their front lawns from the Ku Klux Klan, but he doesn't feel the incidents are connected.


"I asked that question on my Facebook page," said Herar.

"The vast majority of responses that I received from that post on Facebook are that people believe that these are isolated incidents."

Abbotsford police have contacted the hate crimes unit and Crown counsel in their investigation of the incident.  

Thanks to Radical Desi for featuring Cycling4Diversity in fighting racism in the Lower Mainland

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Parm Sidhu: Abbotsford Airport (YXX) expects growth to come in the near future



The Abbotsford Ariport (YXX) is the gateway to the Fraser Valley where diversity takes off and lands connecting Canadians from around our country. Half a million passengers use YXX and 2016 is proving to be the strongest year yet. It seems like whenever I look into the horizon there is a Westjet flight in the area.  Having traveled through the airport on many occasions my preference for most of my Canadian travel destination is YXX if the connections can be made.  Leading the way is Parm Sidhu, Airport General Manager, who has worked for the city for the past 21 years forecasts a bright future for our growing airport.
Sidhu, who is an Abbotsford Senior grad has worked in several jobs within the city since in 1995 like: Skate sharpener, Ice Man, Airport Duty Officer and Terminal Manager, just to name a few.  He explains, having a competitive business model is the key to the airport world, which is changing fast due to technology.  He said, “keeping up on general technology trends impacting airlines/passengers, airports and aerospace companies is a challenge, as what works in our industry today, may not work tomorrow.”

There is a growing diverse culture at YXX, which is a reflection of the 1,500 people that work on the airfield, 16 work directly for the airport and the balance for the partners on the field. Partnerships are the key as growth in the surrounding communities continues, especially in the Southern region of the Fraser, as Sidhu mentions.  Currently, they are three major carriers that workout of YXX to service travellers. 

Close to 75 million has been invested since 1997, and one of the short-term goals are to secure more daily domestic service to Ontario and then to attract more international service from YXX.
As the population continues to grow south of the Fraser, YXX is positioned well for growth, with goals to attract new flights including daily year-round service to Ontario as well as trans-border and international flights.   Also, if you ever get to visit or drop off travelers at YXX you’ll find the experience to be first class right from the ticket personal, security and the janitors.  Walking through the terminal you will also find a hidden gem located near the Westjet ticket office, the Water Clock that once was home at Sevenoaks from 1991 to 2000. Speaking about diversity, an interesting program is held every March out of YXX for young girls and women to meet outstanding females in the aviation and aerospace industry and free flights are offered for eligible candidates called: “The Skies No Limit- Girls Fly Too”.  The Abbotsford Airshow, will be held from August 11-13 next year  and is always a wonderful opportunity to meet experts in the field from across the globe.    

Sidhu said, “It’s been an amazing journey, it’s truly been a great partnership with the employer that has invested in me and allowed me to grow my career in the town I grew up in. It’s truly been a partnership.”

Monday, November 7, 2016

Is racism on the rise in Mission/Abbotsford?



Is racism on the rise in our community?



With all the recent events that have happened – with the KKK flyer distribution and the shocking racial altercation video from a parking incident in Abbotsford – people are talking on social media and around town. So I asked the question to my Facebook friends: Do you feel racism is on the rise in our communities or are these just isolated incidents?
Well, the vast majority of respondents felt these are isolated incidents and these kinds of behaviours are not welcomed. Yes, respondents were extremely disturbed and had lots to say – and so they should. 
These kinds of actions are not warranted in our communities and when we take a closer look around we’ll find diversity is what makes our community unique. It is  proven time and time again and we are better because of it.
My family, unfortunately, received a KKK flyer on our driveway a few short weeks ago. We are a pioneer South Asian family from Mission and are very proud of our hometown. This form of recruitment by this group is not what we need to further our discussion on diversity for future generations.  
Many have commented that the KKK flyer was unorganized, being tossed in the middle of the night at people’s driveways or possibly by teens. I say think again. 
Watching a few YouTube videos, it’s an old Klan tradition to throw flyers out at night at people’s driveways for recruitment purposes, calling it a “Night Ride.” I was correct when I first saw the flyer initially looking like some kind of recruitment drive.  The Klan has had activity in the past in Mission and this action should not be taken lightly. Whether they exist or not, we just don’t know for sure, but the divisive message can have long-term effects with people who may be vulnerable and who may gain an interest in other white supremacy groups that are active in the Lower Mainland.
In regards to the racial video that surfaced from Abbotsford, which went viral, it is something as a collective community that we are not proud of. Abbotsford/Mission being one of the most diverse regions in the country is something we can truly brag about. Diversity is a fragile concept and things can change quickly. Remaining calm and not encouraging further violence is essential in this matter. 

Good for the person doing the videoing to have the higher ground in this horrifying ordeal. I just can’t imagine what he went through and no one deserves this kind of treatment. Gugan Kaur Sidhu from the Fraser Valley Human Dignity Coalition said: “I want to emphasize the importance of reporting these incidences to the police and or the FV Human Dignity Coalition. Having a record of the discriminatory incidences taking place in the Fraser Valley helps secure funding for anti-oppression work and advocate appropriately.”  The Coalition encourages those that were negatively affected by this incident or any other discriminatory incident to contact the Fraser Valley Human Dignity Coalition. 604.859.7681 ext. 270 diversityeducation@abbotsfordcommunityservices.com

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Ku KLux Klan (KKK) strikes Mission residents with flyer


By Kevin Mills,
Mission City Record
Residents of Cherry Avenue woke up Monday morning to find a small package on their front lawns – from the Ku Klux Klan.
The package came in the form of a clear plastic bag containing a one page flyer and a small amount of rice.
The flyer indicates it is from the “Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan” and that “Yes! White Lives Do Matter.”
It contains more statements and includes a website and a “Klan Hotline” phone number.
Mission RCMP received many complaints regarding the hate literature and several files were opened.
One of the residents who received the flyer was Ken Herar, founder of the Cycling4Diversity campaign.
Herar said he was at work when he heard about the incident, but his 83-year-old dad, Tok, was at home and found the flyer. Tok immediately took the literature to the RCMP.
“As a person who has lived her for six decades, I think it was very disturbing for him,” said Herar about his father. “I could see his reaction and I could see his pain and his frustration that we are still battling this.”
He said his dad is proud of the community and feels it is a community built on diversity.
The KKK flyers were also dropped off at some homes in Abbotsford and, earlier this year, in Chilliwack. While it is unknown if this is a local group distributing the literature, Herar said this is not the first incident to occur in Mission.
‘The Ku Klux Klan has existed in Mission for a long time. We’ve had cross burning in Mission back in the ’70s,” said Herar. “Now it hasn’t happened in quite a number of decades.”
Herar said whoever it was they are making a statement and seeking attention.
“They want to create fear and dismantle our diversity.”
Herar is planing on organizing a ride in Mission an Abbotsford in the next few weeks to talk to students about the KKK incident.
“We want to counter-act this. This is not our community. This does not represent us.”
Mission Mayor Randy Hawes agrees that this is not a representation of Mission and said he is unaware of any organized Ku Klux Klan.
“The people of Mission can be assured that they are not going to see a horde of hooded people walking down the street lighting crosses on fire,” said Hawes, adding that the police are already looking for the people spreading this hate information around.
“I’m sure the individuals who did this are in hiding. They are that kind of people. The literature should be scrapped  and thrown away.”

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Diversity: Gentle, Equal and Balances

On the Spot by Ken Herar
I was recently told by someone after a brief discussion that I am an East Indian sympathizer in reference to my columns.
I don’t mind criticism as long as it’s accurate. The only thing that is correct about this statement is, yes, I am East Indian – actually South Asian is the proper term to use.
For me being a South Asian sympathizer is the furthest from the truth.
Over the past two decades, I worked tirelessly with many community members to create dialogue and find ways where we can encourage diverse activities and relationships.
It’s not about favouring one cultural group over another, but rather looking at our community as one diverse city.
Readers might sometimes automatically assume that when they see my South Asian face on this page that I am voicing something on East Indian topics or criticizing the mainstream community on racism issues. Get your facts correct on what is actually being discussed and the foundation that is being created.
In order for us to move forward, I discovered a formula that has assisted me on how we can be more interconnected. It is called: (GEB) Gentle, Equal and Balances. By being Gentle, we actually get to listen and respect each other. When it comes to the diversity family, everyone is Equal despite our obvious differences. In order to discover diversity we need to have Balances in terms of our friendships and activities.
Diversity can be a difficult term for some to understand, yet they claim to practice it. Then there are those who think it is just a word and never publicly admit they don’t believe in it. Whatever side of the fence you’re on, these three terms will provide an important self-guide, and it’s more than just about differences. Actually, we have more in common than you may believe.
My mother Kuldip shared a story with me that captures these three terms all in one package. When my mom came to Canada in the mid 1960s, her English was limited and it was the kind people of Mission and members from the Mission Rotary Club who stepped up and took her out to get groceries and assisted her with daily activities.
Mom always says: “I will never forget those people who welcomed me with open arms.”