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HomeNewsWinter Bike Ride to honour southern Alberta Japanese ancestry

Winter Bike Ride to honour southern Alberta Japanese ancestry

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden encourages you to bring your bike for a lap around Henderson Lake for the fourth annual Winter Bike Ride Feb. 23. The free event is in honour of the hardships many of Japanese ancestry in southern Alberta faced in the 1940s. 

Many people of Japanese ancestry were displaced from their homes, lost their cars and moved to southern Alberta. Unable to live in Lethbridge, many rode their bikes from surrounding towns to make the trip into the city to work or purchase groceries. 

One man, in particular, travelled to Lethbridge every day through sun, rain and freezing snow. It was a harsh and rugged 38-kilometre trek each way. 

“We wanted to try and raise awareness, especially with the amount of Japanese Canadians not allowed to own any property or any vehicles or anything like that back in the 1940s,” says Eric Granson, marketing and events manager.

“It’s our way of showing sensitivity to it, showing respect to it and honouring those with all the struggles they had during that time period,” Granson adds. 

Another incentive to get people out on their bikes to brave the cold is the addition of a nice, warm bowl of miso soup and a complimentary pass to the Winter Light Festival. 

Granson recommends participants pre-register for the event online, but registrations will be accepted on-site. “We do recommend in advance to get an idea of an expected amount of people coming,” notes Granson. 

The day will also see members of the Lethbridge Police Service participating and a tent will be erected to help riders with any last-minute bike repairs. 

“The amazing thing about this event is nobody else does this,” says Granson. “We are hoping to make this really big because this is unique to this area and unique to our history.” 

Once the Link Pathway connects Coaldale to Lethbridge, the bike ride will be extended, as the pathway leads to Nikka Yuko, according to Granson. “For now, this is definitely a good start and we hope to get as many people as possible.” 

The ride starts at 2 p.m. at the Bunka Centre and will end at the centre at 4 p.m. 

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