In a year where the United States has seen high profile racially targeted shootings like the one inside a Texas Walmart, an unlikely pair is hoping to combat that hate.
The duo was brought in by the City of Edmonton to share their stories in an effort to prevent more violence.
“On August 5th 2012, a white supremacist gunman murdered six people, one of those people was my father and temple president,” Co-founder of Serve 2 Unite Pardeep Kaleka said.
It was a day Kaleka will never forget. The gunman, Wade Micheal Page of Wisconsin, killed himself in the attack. He was a member of a white nationalist gang, a gang Arno Michaelis helped form.
“I was there at the beginning and I was active in organizing it, so I helped to bring it off the ground, I helped to make it happen,” explained Michaelis. He denounced the affiliation in 1994.
Instead of spreading a message of hate, the former skin-head has now joined forces with a Sikh man from the United States and together, are doing quite the opposite.
The pair hopes hearing stories from two completely different sides will resonate with a younger generation of Edmontonians.
“Hate destroys your life, it puts a hole in your life, a hole in your world, your relationship with the world,
“It’s a miserable existence that I would never go back to,” Michaelis said.
“Forgiveness really is freedom,” Kaleka said. “It’s to say, ‘I want to engage’, not that I forgot what happened, nor do I condone what happened, but I need to be free from the pain long enough for me to do something with it.”
The pair met years ago, finding an instant bond and a shared desire of wanting to make a change.
A message Kaleka says he will continue to share along side a once foe, turned friend.