Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Ready to be the wheel deal
Snow can't put the freeze on training for multicultural bike trip
As we all get prepared for the snowfall that is scheduled to fall from the skies today, take a moment and think of me as I sweat it out at the gym preparing for my cycling expedition to Victoria early next summer.
Yes, I have been hard at it cycling, running and doing whatever it takes to hopefully land my bike and I at the provincial capital.
The sole purpose of this journey is to promote cultural diversity and the awareness of the growing cultural divide here in the Lower Mainland. As a writer for 15 years, I value the feedback I receive from readers. This open relationship allows me to hear of issues from a different set of eyes and ears.
Over the course of the last few years I have been noticing a downward trend in how people view some of our ethnic communities. More and more people have been approaching me with concerns about how certain groups, including South Asians, are becoming more actively discriminatory in how they live. Actually, people are going out of their way to share their negative feedback in detail.
I don't doubt the fact that these examples are real and I have decided to take steps to bring change. Unfortunately, I believe not enough is being done and we need to promote the awareness of these concerns.
People are extremely angry and frustrated of the growing isolation. Changes need to happen sooner than later. In 10-20 years, we will have some serious issues on hand if we don't discuss them now.
I can't change how people live, but we can certainly make them think.
The engine of diversity is working, but some major repairs are needed.
One important point, I would like to make very clear. I don't represent the South Asian community nor am I their spokesperson. I am just one of the many individuals who cares about building an inclusive community where everyone participates and shows equal respect. To help conquer this issue, I have decided to cycle from my hometown of Mission to Victoria in seven days. Along the way, I would like to stop through every Lower Mainland community and meet with representatives to discuss some of these issues.
Meeting and speaking with people is always fun and exciting. I am not planning doing this alone. If you believe in this message and would like to be part of this team, even if it's for only part of the distance, drop me a line. This has to be a group effort; we all have to make some sacrifices to make our communities better.
The bike that I will be pedaling on has been generously donated by Wentings Cycle & Mountain Shop in Mission. During the trip, I would like to raise enough funds to buy the bike and donate it to a worthy individual who is in need.
The end goal of this week-long spectacle would be to arrive at the Legislature and meet with the next premier and highlight this awareness. The political structure at all levels needs to be more involved and active in how we shape our communities.
Stay tuned. I am looking forward to coming to a city or town near you.
- Ken Herar is a freelance columnist for the Abbotsford-Mission Times. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Trailblazer happy to be close to home
She's Mission's first South Asian female officer
I had the opportunity of meeting up with new Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Joanie Sidhu. She holds the distinction of being the first South Asian female police officer to patrol the streets of Mission.
Going out on ride-alongs with members of the police are practical ways of appreciating their service.
The evening started with a quick visit to a local residence to straighten up some relationship issues with a former husband.
For the most part, it remained relatively quiet, which allowed time to get to know one of Mission's finest.
But, we did hand out one ticket and suspension to an individual, who blew over 0.05 and violated the new provincial drinking law.
During the many patrols around the city, she spoke about growing up in Abbotsford and how excited she was about getting her first posting to Mission.
"I was so happy, knowing that I was coming close to home," said Sidhu.
"Mission is a great community. I go to work everyday looking forward to seeing my co-workers." Being the only member from the South Asian community, who speaks Punjabi, she knows the importance of language barriers. Sidhu said: "Having a member from the South Asian community, it makes it much easier on staff to do a better job. It is important that everyone gets heard, no matter what the problem."
Her boss, Inspector Pat Walsh, just recently came out and celebrated Diwali in Mission.
Walsh, who has been attending this event for the last few years helped prepare the evening supper , said: "We are very pleased to have Joanie stationed here in Mission.
"Simply by virtue of being a South-Asian woman employed as a fully operational police officer, she destroys many stereotypes that perhaps still exist.
She certainly brings a much deeper cultural understanding which both aids in our overall detachment service delivery as well as broadens our own horizons internally.
"Taking in the Diwali festival last week, I can't say enough about how pleased I am to be part of the community here in Mission that celebrates diversity - diverse culture, language, dance and food."
It is part of being a healthy community and as we know, a healthy community begets a safer community, said Walsh.
Sidhu encourages people and especially females to apply to the RCMP. "It feels good knowing that I am a role model for others to pursue their lifetime dreams." One thing, became evidently clear; being a cop in Mission would be difficult task. I simply know too many people. She and I both agreed.
I had the opportunity to speak with Abbotsford Police Deputy Chief Const., Rick Lucy about some diversity issues in his department.
He said: "At the Abbotsford Police Department we are committed to our mission of making Abbotsford the safest city in British Columbia. We understand that we cannot be successful with our mission on our own, and that we must be partnered with the community."
He outlined various strategies to have his organization more representative of the community.
Lucy said: "A current example of this can be seen in a target we have set to hire 50 per cent of our police recruits from the Indo-Canadian community. We are pleased to realize some success from these efforts, having recently added a couple more officers from the Indo-Canadian community, including the department's first turban wearing officer Harvinder Mangat."
Steps such as this see us heading in a vital and proper direction with respect to diversity in our organization, said Lucy.
- Ken Herar is a columnist with the Abbotsford-Mission Times. Contact him at: email@example.com.