COLUMN: Sixth annual Cycling4Diversity tour

Public invited to come hear former white supremacist speak

  • May. 26, 2017 9:34 a.m.

On the Spot by Ken Herar

The Cycling4Diversity team is finishing their sixth annual tour on May 26 at the Mission Leisure Centre (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.).

The public is invited to attend and listen to former white supremacist Tony McAleer, who will be the guest speaker at the event. McAleer will talk about his former life and the changes he made to escape the culture of hate.

A former organizer for the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), McAleer served as a skinhead recruiter, proprietor of Canadian Liberty Net (a computer-operated voice messaging centre), and manager of the racist rock band Odin’s Law.

After the birth of his two children, he began a journey of de-radicalization, self-discovery, and transformation that he shares as an inspirational speaker.

We are honoured to have McAleer come to Mission to speak with residents about discrimination and also about some of the recent KKK activities in the area. I encourage people to come out and listen and bring your children as well.

There will also be two other speakers that evening: Kal Dosanjh, a Vancouver police officer and CEO of Kidsplay, as well as Kristine Heinrichs, who recently threw coloured-rice bags in driveways to counteract the KKK tactic and embrace diversity in Abbotsford.

Cycling4Diversity Week in this province runs from May 21 to May 27 and it’s always an amazing experience, and people have always been so supportive. It’s kind of like running a marathon – we have to keep the pace to deliver an important message and finish strong.

I consistently share with the students that we’re just talking about diversity, not really practising it. Diversity is a full-time commitment, not a part-time conversation. We should live and experience it every day and our message is: Go meet your neighbour, make new friends at your workplace and join intercultural sports teams. There are large cultural gaps that we have that need to be broken down. It’s not just about our South Asian community, it’s other communities as well. And we need to build those bridges. There are three things I define diversity with – GED: Gentle, equal and balances. If you can do those three things you’ll practise diversity.

C4D will be visiting nine schools over our two-day ride from Burnaby to Mission. Our team over the past six years has visited more than 100 schools.

Mike Bismeyer, who will be our lead speaker during the ride, said, “ Knowing Ken since we met in Grade 6, witnessing his tireless work with C4D, educating on acceptance and inclusion, I saw a great opportunity for us to reconnect many years later, as there was a definite symmetry with C4D and my company Seon’s initiative United Against Bullying, to partner and make a difference together.”

“We encourage the public to come and welcome our team at the Leisure Centre and there will be food, refreshments and T-shirts given out to those to attend,” said executive director Anne Marie Sjoden. “We look forward to meeting with the community in celebrating Cycling4Diversity Week.”