COLUMN: C4D team finishes annual journey

Mission’s Ken Herar and Mission school trustee Randy Cairns cycled to Matsqui Elementary May 23 as part of the Cycling4Diversity journey. - John Morrow
Mission’s Ken Herar and Mission school trustee Randy Cairns cycled to Matsqui Elementary May 23 as part of the Cycling4Diversity journey.
— image credit: John Morrow

The Cycling4Diversity (C4D) team recently finished its four-day journey (May 20-23) from Mission to Mission.

The team of a dozen or so C4D team members visited 20 schools in 15 cities, spreading the message of being inclusive throughout the Lower Mainland to thousands of students to celebrate Cycling 4 Diversity Week in B.C. (May 18-24).

The team of riders left Mission on the morning of May 20 from the Mission Friendship Centre, where they were gifted with a bandana and pray ties ceremony for blessings.

Overall, the ride was smooth, but challenging nevertheless in trying to reach the schools in the scheduled times. The team completed an average of five to six schools per day including elementary, middle and secondary.

The message was well received and our team was encouraged and welcomed to return in the future. Some mayors and council members even pedalled with us or met our team at the schools to extend welcoming a letter or proclamation.

In total, the C4D team received 10 proclamations, including one from the Province of British Columbia declaring Cycling4Diversity Week.

During this week, members encouraged students to make a special effort and develop intercultural relations with fellow students and break any conceived barriers that may exist in schools, neighbourhoods or workplaces.

Let’s face it, racism still exists, unfortunately, and cultural isolation is a growing issue in some of our communities.

C4D member and Abbotsford Coun. Bill MacGregor, who spent decades in the school system and retired as a principal, connected with students during each of his presentations. He spoke about author Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He referred to Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.

This relates to our overall message – that if we all took a moment to listen or reach out to some one, that is one way of clearing up any stereotypes or misconception that may exist, between different cultural groups. We all have biases and sometimes through discussions like these, people may take the time to change any past behaviours through reflection. Parents also play an important role in this equation, and communication is vital to how we grow as an integrated community.

The team visited four schools in the Abbotsford/Mission area on May 20, which included Mission Secondary, Silverdale Elementary, Matsqui Elementary and Dasmesh Punjabi School.

Commanding Officer of the British Columbia Regiment, Lieut.-Col. Harjit Sajjan said, “Mr. Herar has taken a unique method of promoting diversity and inclusiveness with Cycling4Diversity. C4D has professionals from diverse backgrounds promoting diversity to kids while encouraging physical fitness. I had the pleasure of joining the team this year and I can say with surety that I gained more from the experience.”

Abbotsford Coun. Dave Loewen said: “The four-day, 22-school Cycling4Diversity trip was my first, and it didn’t disappoint. The welcome we received wherever we went was genuinely open and warm. I came away from that experience believing that an authentic awareness existed that our message was not only needed, but that adherence to the message was essential for the creation of a more peaceful world.

“It was my impression that the students we spoke to, particularly in the Greater Vancouver area, already have a grasp of this, and that my generation has much to learn from the younger generation. I observed that they are more fortunate than I was at their age, in that my school was all white, while the cultural diversity that exists today contrasts sharply.

“One school we visited had 70 different languages represented in their student body.

“Needless to say, our message bears repeating many times, and I trust I will have more opportunities to participate in this worthwhile initiative.”

Other members from the local area were: Anne-Marie Sjoden, Norm MacLeod, Bob Soltis, Randy Cairns, Elizabeth Lloyd and Anoop Tatlay. The C4D team is being recognized with a Community Service Award at the District of Mission annual awards event.

Ken Herar writes monthly for the Abbotsford News on diversity issues.

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