Earlier this month (Jan. 15) was Martin Luther King Day for our neighbours down south. A day where Americans and citizens from around the globe reflect on the struggles we still face as a civilization, and the progress that has been made in our common humanity.
If some of you recall, on January 15, 2017, Abbotsford was hit with KKK hate flyers and it was their goal for this to be a distraction and spread hate on this day.
It made headlines across the nation and people were outraged at the disgusting and planned act of a few.
This wasn’t the only time this occurred around the Fraser Valley. In October 2016, my home and the entire street was hit by KKK flyers in Mission throughout the evening.
Their goal is recruitment and to seek vulnerable people who may want to join their pathetic organization.
Kristine Kuol of Abbotsford, as part of her university project last April, went for a Night Ride, along with her husband Akol. They threw bags of rice containing a diversity message inside, onto people’s driveways to counteract the KKK message.
What a brilliant and positive idea to share with people and to destroy the physiological mindset of terror.
This year, on Martin Luther King Day, Kristine, Akol and I decided to do another Night Ride and throw bags on peoples driveways in the Mission/Abbotsford area.
I was excited to take part in this worthy exercise and to bring a positive message to people’s driveways.
In total, we had 100 bags prepared and we threw about 30 in Mission and the rest in Abby. It does take a bit of skill and driving slow is a key and a good aim is necessary. Sometimes you nail it and others times you strike out. With these skills it may just land in a spot where residents may see it.
A few onlookers always appeared curious as to what was happening. It’s difficult to be discrete and getting noticed is easy.
“Last Martin Luther King Day I felt that the lives of minorities, my beloved friends were being threatened by people who were experiencing personal hurt which was manifested in oppressive behavior,” said Kuol. “Racism is oppressive to both parties. I felt that on a day when diversity and forward movement towards equality and acceptance should be the focus and hateful behavior stole the spotlight.
“I am committed to listening to voices that are different then my own. I am also convinced that those behind the threats need to experience listening ears if those around them learned and heard their pain they may not be throwing flyers lashing out in public criminality.
“I would encourage you to expand your friend group to include just one friend who is of a different ethnic or linguistic background.”
Steven Purewal, Managing Director of Indus Media Foundation, a lower mainland non-profit that raises awareness of Punjabi culture and history, believes the recent uptick in racist sentiments towards South Asians is rooted in the historically legislated discriminatory treatment of non-whites in Canada.
Purewal said, “This step from intolerance to tolerance does little to engender respect between disparate communities. Fundamentally, unless we establish trusting relationships, based on equitable treatment, fractures from the past will continue to identify a ‘them and us’ divide – with the ‘them’ being the ‘other’ dehumanized to the point of being unable to possess the virtues of true Canadians and thus relegated to being outsiders to the mainstream. This sentiment is being played out in the streets, on the airwaves and social media today in Canada. We need to take the steps now to progress dialogues of tolerance to inclusion and belonging, which requires significant educational effort in our schools and communities.”