COLUMN: Never stop building intercultural relationships

It’s hard to believe 19 years has slipped by as a columnist...

It’s hard to believe 19 years has slipped by as a columnist. I still recall looking for that one opportunity and I’m thankful to the Abbotsford News for having the confidence in me.

One of the most important things I’ve learned after 228 months, is creating relationships in our community is far more valuable than being opinionated on things that really don‘t matter. The truth is we don’t know it all and we need to be more inclusive with all our diverse communities by listening and having an open mind. We should never stop building intercultural relationships and that is something we have unfortunately done.

For example, in my travels in the Abbotsford/Mission area I rarely see people from different cultures walking together in our communities. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but it should be happening a lot more due to the size of diverse population. People say they believe in diversity, but don’t practise the basic fundamentals. Diversity is not a complicated word; it’s simply about creating friendships through our differences.

Over the past two decades, I have kept every correspondence that has been emailed to me, and after reading some of the positive and negative remarks all I can say is that we’re very fortunate to reside in a multicultural country. I have been placed in a leadership role all these years and I’ve taken this responsibility very seriously. Some weeks, it feels like it’s a full-time job with all of the emails and invitations. I’m proud to say I have always made an effort to reach back to all those who have reached out.

After being denied in 2010 to go to a Christmas party for being East Indian I knew that much work remained. As the founder of Cycling4Diversity, our team has visited close to 100 schools in a short four years. Through this proactive approach we’re seeing change in our neighbourhoods, parenting, sports teams, and workplaces. I’m happy to announce at this time I will be staying on for my 20th year and excited to be part of it. The best part of this job is I get to meet many incredible faces in our community and give them an opportunity to be part of an important discussion.

Last week, I was honoured and surprised to have received the Community/Literary Ambassador Award, from the Writers International Network (WIN) Canada.

In 2013, local author Theresa Chevalier also received the WIN Distinguished Writer Award for her historical novels “Shameful Innocence” and “Green Hell.”

“Writers International Network celebrates and honours people of all cultures whose work touches the lives of others in positive and meaningful ways,” said Chevalier.

Her novels feature fictional characters living through real historical times. Teachers have recommended her books to their students to aid in their studies.

“I love going to WIN awards ceremonies. People from all over the world come together and share poems, songs and dance. This gives me inspiration and encouragement to love all and help to make a difference in the world, even if just in little ways,” she said.

Ken Herar writes monthly about diversity issues.