Herar was one Mission's South Asian pioneers

By Ken Herar


For those families, who have lost loved ones it can be a difficult time no matter how long it’s been.
For our family, it’s been a difficult journey over the past few month, since my father died, especially for my mom Kuldip. My parents were married for 51 years.
Grieving is a process and there are definitely good and bad moments and group hugs are a necessity.
Angel Elias from the Mission Hospice Society said, “The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried – and there is no ‘normal’ timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold. Remember, grief is not an event, it is a process that takes time to heal.”
My father, Tok passed away suddenly on Nov. 20, at the age of 84 and this is one of the few columns he will never read of mine.
He was a true pioneer in so many ways in the Fraser Valley, coming to Canada in 1952. He knew all the legends in the community, and shared their stories and activities to a new generation.
My father was one of the few that were left from a time, where people softly spoke about their struggles and hardships with dignity and proved that we could all live as one and make Canada to what it is today.
Dad was a true ambassador of Mission, which he loved and cared for, and a diplomat in negations to get projects completed so it can further the community. Dad spent a lifetime of philanthropy in the community.
He helped build the crematorium in Mission and in the early years, in the ’70s, he worked not only in Mission but in Abbotsford, helping the Sikh temple gain heritage status, amongst many other projects.
He was featured in the 100-year Journey by Mefhil and shared his struggles and outlook as a pioneer.
“He was a long-time Rotarian, 56 years of perfect attendance. He was a freemason as well. He did that for 55 years.
He was a community spirit person. He was good to Mission and Mission was good to him. It was a perfect combination. He, had tons of time for people and loved to listen and provide guidance, being a respected statesman
Dad had many talents, was a successful business man – he was a leading insurance agent for many decades, setting business records – and was also an accomplished athlete.
He was a soccer, tennis and badminton player and mentored many people in the community, but none more than his three sons.
He had time to mentor us and, through that mentorship, we learned how to be engaged with the community. He was our life coach.
Dad was a real go-getter and we had to be the same way. If we weren’t doing anything, he’d be on us. ‘Go do something,’ he’d say.
Dad passing came as a surprise to his family and the community. He didn't look or act his age. Always young at heart.
We didn’t expect this. It was a sudden thing. He wasn’t ill, it just kind of happened. It’s a big loss for our community.
He was involved in almost every footprint of the community in some way”
And the community recognized Dad for his service with a street called Herar Lane, just off Cherry Avenue and Stave Lake Street.
“He wasn’t afraid to tell you he was proud of you. That says a lot about somebody who can say good things about other people.
Dad was passionate about diversity and how important it is that we all live together and respect our natural differences.
Dad was really proud of Cycling4Diversity He was passionate about people coming together, the initiative I began to promote acceptance.
Mayor Randy Hawes said, “Tok was an iconic figure in our community and he will be missed,” said Hawes, who noted Tok spent six decades serving Mission.
Going through the endless amount of pictures and conversations, he excelled at all most everything, whether it be on the tennis court, badminton or the soccer pitch. He was a fierce competitor and a legendary coach, who often found the good in people. As a family we have found enormous comfort in all that has been shared to date and appreciate the outpouring of grief.
I had a unique conversation with a random gentlemen. I shared what happened with our late father and he shared what happened to him on three different occasions. He said he died on three separate occasions throughout his life, due to heart failure. I asked him how was it like dying and what did he feel. He said it was the best feeling ever and peaceful and there was a warm sensation.
He didn’t want to come back to the other side of the living. Like a friend told shared with me that many of us fear death, but it might be the best feeling ever.
If anything this brought some comfort that our loved ones may be in a better place.
Mike de Jong MLA for Abbotsford West said, “For Tok Herar, working hard to earn a living was important because it provided him with the means to support the family he loved with all his heart.
But ask anyone who knew Tok and they will tell you that for him the noblest calling of all was service in the cause of the community. He sought neither thanks nor recognition but is deserving of both for the countless hours he spent to make Mission, British Columbia and Canada a better place. His sense of civic duty will live on in the hearts of his wife, children and grandchildren who will miss him dearly.
“Tok lead by example. His was a life of volunteerism and philanthropy. We are all the richer for having known him and can honour him best by following his example of community service.”


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