COLUMN: Team proud of new defence minister

Members of Cycling4Diversity are extremely proud of Harjit Sajjan, who has been cycling with team for the past two years

The members of Cycling4Diversity are extremely proud of Harjit Sajjan, who has been cycling with us for the past two years and has been appointed Canada’s new defence minister.

This is what he shared with me before he got involved with C4D off one of our Facebook chats a few years ago, and speaks volumes of his character.

Sajjan said, “I am very impressed with your efforts and unique approach. I command one of the most diverse regiments in Canada, and I am passionate about positively changing people’s perception of diversity.”

I couldn’t think of a better response from someone in his position to lead our nation with the strife we currently face around the globe. In the two years Harjit was involved with C4D, he not only changed people’s perceptions, he left a lasting impression with everyone he touched building on our message of inclusion.

I had the opportunity to meet my good friend Jaspreet Anand, who owns SippChai on Townline in Abbotsford. He started his first annual SippChai Charity Calendar that will benefit many local organizations, and was kind enough to put members of our Cycling4Diversity team in May 2016, along with many other organizations such as Abbotsford Youth Commission, Cyrus Centre, The Salvation Army and Abbotsford Arts Council, to name a few. The calendars are selling for $10 and he is hoping to sell 10,000 calendars.

If you ever walk into Mission McDonald’s late in the evening, you’ll be sure to bump into Don Warkentin, who is always busy with his writing and music as visitors munch on their burgers and fries. He’s an avid reader and world-class gardener, along with his late wife Hilda, who passed away a few years back.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Warkentin at McDonald’s a few months back and he shared an interesting story about his childhood. The kitchen table is where we learn to care about people who may be different than us. Growing up in Abbotsford, he spoke about being a young child and his mother asking him to deliver a pie and bread to the Mitchells, who lived across the street.

He puts it simply, “Nobody trusted them and they trusted no one.”

As he approached the door that evening, and he remembers it fondly, Mr. Mitchell would take his gun off the wall and yell “who is it?” As he would open the door slowly, Mitchell would see little Donny with food and would welcome him inside. He describes this valuable lesson from his mother as, “We have to learn to care.”