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.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Muhammad Ali was more than a boxer

COLUMN: Muhammad Ali was more than a boxer

On the Spot by Ken Herar
It’s with great sadness that we learned last month about Muhammad Ali passing, one of the best boxers of all time. I recall listening to the radio on many occasions to legendary radio broadcaster Howard Cosell announcing the blow by blow actions.
Ali, who only lost 5 times in his career, was a controversial figure in and outside the boxing ring and never short of words. At the tender age of 12, Ali discovered his talent for boxing through a police officer after his bike was stolen. Ali told the police officer, that he wanted to beat up the thief. “Well, you better learn how to fight before you start challenging people”, said the officer.
Ali famous saying was, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” and he did just that and had tough words on diversity and social integration, which could be considered as racist to some. Aligning himself with the Nation of Islam and its leader Elijah Muhammad, he had tough words about the white folks.
Going through many YouTube videos and seeing his interviews during the civil rights movement in the 1960’s, Ali took a tough stance on how a black person should live their life and reject outside influences. Ali said, “We who follow the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, don’t want to be forced to integrate. Integration is wrong. We don’t want to live with the white man; that’s all.”
And in relation to inter-racial marriage: “No intelligent black man or black woman in his or her right black mind wants white boys and white girls coming to their homes to marry their black sons and daughters.”
But, let’s not lose perspective of the era that Ali was speaking. Many blacks were treated as “second class” citizens throughout the United States and the hard stance was sometimes needed to capture the attention. In 1960, he was turned away from a “whites-only” restaurant and in 1967 Ali refused induction into the US Armed Forces due to his religious beliefs and as a result, he was arrested and fined. Just recently, his hometown paper apologized 50 years later for continuing to refer to Ali in the press as Cassius Clay and not by his Muslim name.
He always wanted to more than a boxer and he proved to be more than just that. He devoted his time to helping charities, Special Olympics and creating world peace when he flew to Lebanon to secure the release of four hostages. He also made goodwill missions to Afghanistan and North Korea and delivered medical aid to Cuba and secured the release of 15 US hostages during the first Gulf War. In 1981, he helped save a man from jumping out of a ninth-floor building in Los Angeles. In 1985, he and his wife Lonnie opened the Muhammad Ali Center in their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, which inspires with an educational and museum experience.
He leaves us with some special words, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

Friday, June 3, 2016

Cycling4Diversity team profiled in the Agassiz-Harrison Observer


Raising awareness one peddle at a time

Members of the Cycling4diversity group visited two schools in Agassiz and one in Harrison Hot Springs Wednesday, May 25. - Anne-Marie Sjoden/Special to The Observer
Members of the Cycling4diversity group visited two schools in Agassiz and one in Harrison Hot Springs Wednesday, May 25.
— Image Credit: Anne-Marie Sjoden/Special To The Observer
To mark a week of promoting diversity, not-for-profit group Cycling4Diversity visited three schools in the Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs area Wednesday, May 25.
The C4D team spent the morning traveling between Kent Elementary and Agassiz Secondary school and later cycled to Harrison Hot Springs and spoke at Harrison Elementary, where they received a wonderful response.
The cycling group's founder Ken Herar said students were very excited to hear the group speak on  diversity..
“We are extremely honoured to have received the support from the community and the schools we visited on the first leg of our three-day journey.”
The founder said when he asked if racism exists in the area, “many of the students expressed concerns much work remains.”
For the groups’s executive director Anne-Marie Sjoden, this was her third ride, although first in Agassiz and Harrison.
“It always brings joy to me, when I hear the stories on how we have been making a difference in the peoples life’s that we have touched.  And how amazing friendships have formed all because of asking the kids to do one simple task, introducing themselves to some they had not been friends with before today,” she said.
For more information about the group, visit

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Surrey Now: Encouraging South Asians to step outside their culture

June 2, 2016 · 8:28 AM

Cycling4Diversity founder Ken Herar talks to Khalsa school students in Surrey on May 26. / SUBMITTED
NEWTON — Students at two Khalsa schools in Surrey were asked to do one simple task on May 26 – make friends with someone outside their own culture.
It’s a simple, yet powerful request the Cycling4Diversity team has been making in schools throughout B.C. for the past six years, thanks to founder Ken Herar.
“Our team has always felt welcomed at the Khalsa schools in Surrey and students were really excited to have a conversation on diversity related topics,” he said.
Herar founded the group  in 2010 after he found out he was not welcome at a certain Christmas party because he was South Asian.
He said despite the community support and the incredible response from the schools he visits, much work remains to be done.
“When the question was asked if racism still exists in the area, many of the students expressed concerns,” he said.
Anne-Marie Sjoden is Cycling4Diversity executive director. This was her third ride.
“It always brings joy to me, when I hear the stories on how we have been making a difference in the peoples lives that we have touched,” she said. “And how amazing friendships have formed all because of asking the kids to do one simple task, introducing themselves to some they had not been friends with before today.”

Monday, May 23, 2016

Cycling4Diversity will be visiting Burnaby Schools on May 25th, 2016

MAY 20, 2016 01:50 PM

Cyclists will be riding into Burnaby on Thursday to promote inclusiveness.
For the sixth year in a row, riders with the Cycling4Diversity Foundation are travelling around the Lower Mainland for three days in support of Cycling4Diversity Week, born out of the United Nations’ World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, which aims to promote cultural diversity through understanding and inclusion.
Riders will be stopping at Burnaby South Secondary and Byrne Creek Secondary schools for a brief presentation on May 26, said Ken Herar, one of the organizers.
“It’s a half-an-hour kind of thing just to listen to what the kids have to say about (diversity) and how can we make our communities more inclusive and interactive with each other,” he said.
Herar said the purpose of the event is to connect with kids and help them think critically about racism and what biases they may have.
“People have biases, so we need to reflect on those things to make our communities a better place,” he said. “Racism has changed and it’s still out there, but people do it in different ways. Let’s be real, it’s not just the white people as people may think, it’s everyone. Everyone has biases.”
Cycling4Diversity will be at Burnaby South Secondary at 9:30 a.m. and at Byrne Creek Secondary at 10:30 a.m. For more information, visit

© 2016 Burnaby Now
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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Cycling4Diversity Week in the District of Mission May 22nd - May 28th, 2016

Cycling4Diversity week in Mission

The District of Mission has proclaimed May 22-28 as Cycling4Diversity week. Riders will head out beginning May 25. - Kevin Mills Photo
The District of Mission has proclaimed May 22-28 as Cycling4Diversity week. Riders will head out beginning May 25.
— Image Credit: Kevin Mills Photo
It’s Cycling4Diversity week from May 22-28 in Mission and throughout the province.
This year, riders will be taking to the streets on a three-day tour of the Fraser Valley/Lower Mainland area.
On May 25, cyclists will ride through Hope, Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs, stopping at schools and other community buildings to share stories about diversity.
Riders will go again on May 26, this time from Burnaby to Surrey and will wrap up the tour on May 27 in Mission and Abbotsford.
“We are trying to encourage people in the community to reach out to people they may not know in their neighbourhood or in their workplace and schools, to bridge the culture gaps that we still face,” said Ken Herar, founder of the event.
This year marks the sixth annual Cycling4Diversity event. Since it began, cyclists have visited more than 100 schools in the area.
“We’ve done all the schools in Mission already (except for one),” said Herar.
While it has yet to be confirmed, riders are hoping to visit Dewdney Elementary this year.
There are usually six to 10 riders at a time taking part in the event.
“It’s better with a smaller group because it gives everybody a chance to speak at the school and share their experiences. It’s not about how many people, it’s about the message,” said Herar.
Students are encouraged to share their stories as well.
“We want people to hear about the challenges, but about the positive stories as well.”