COLUMN: We’re different on the outside, same on the inside

Columnist Ken Herar looks at immigrant families and their struggles to blend in

Abbotsford News columnist Ken Herar

Abbotsford News columnist Ken Herar

I have never forgotten the first time I experienced racism and came to the realization that I was a bit different than the rest.

Reflecting on a moment growing in our hometown of Mission where our family encountered racism for the first time to my knowledge.

Back in the 1970’s people (kids) unfortunately threw eggs at homes if they were from immigrant families. Diversity wasn’t a concept that was really spoken about, but it was a learning experience we had to go through.

I recall, eating supper at our dinner table one evening when a bunch of kids threw eggs, which sounded like rocks at our door and yelled, ” Paki’s Go Home”. A bit scared and never really understanding the situation, we asked our father what do they mean. Dad replies, ” We are a little different than the rest, son.”

Looking back at it now he was trying to shelter us from the hate. Trying to comprehend all of this, we sucked it up and realized we had to be a bit stronger than the rest. ¬†You don’t really understand it, until you know you are different.

I don’t believe this happens anymore at least I hope not. We still love our town of Mission and they’re are no hard feelings from our family. You move forward, but you don’t really forget the lasting imprint it leaves on your conscience. You just hope it doesn’t happen again to anyone else. Actually, the kids that used to do this apologized indirectly to us many years later. Even some of those eggs may have been different on the outside, they all looked the same on the inside when they were scrambled at our doorstep.

This ordeal had been on my mind for the past year to share on what some immigrant families had to go through many decades ago and reminded that we were different and had to work a little harder than the rest

I recently reached out to the three men, who were being sought after for suspicious behaviour ( Middle Eastern men) at Pacific Centre in Vancouver a few weeks ago and provided them with encouragement and shared a little what we do with Cycling4Diversity. I also gave them C4D shirts as gifts before they headed back home to England to showcase our true diverse spirit as Canadians. The first thing I said as I walked through the door to shake Mohammed Sharaz is, ” I am sorry for what happened” and he responded, ” Don’t be sorry”. The three of them, including his son and a friend were taking pictures at the downtown mall and alarms bells were raised by their behaviour by security staff, while two of them suffer from vision issues and were here for treatment. The three men turned themselves in after they found the story accidentally and images of themselves when Goggling Vancouver. During, our talk they didn’t have a ill faded word to say and loved Vancouver and all the kind people who stepped forward to assist and clear the air. As Mohammed said police and security staff have a responsibility to keep people safe. But, he added it could of been handled better by some of the media outlets to protect them and their safety.

kenherar@gmail.com