The Ebola crisis in West Africa has killed over 8,000 people, primarily in Liberia and Sierra Leone. As communities worldwide rush to the ravaged countries’ aid, the BC Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) is hosting a public meeting for Kootenay residents at the Mir Centre for Peace on January 22 to discuss how best to respond to these crises.
“What we’re trying to do with this public event is to ask the question of when these sorts of crises happen, who’s responsibility is it to deal with it?” said Kareen Wong, communications officer for the BCCIC.
The event, which runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m., is intended to be a forum to discuss and answer questions about Ebola.
“We want to tackle how British Columbians in particular have a role to play. We want to bring different sectors in to talk about this and to think about how the local communities of Nelson and Castlegar can interact with the provincial level, national level and the global scales,” she said.
“Are there barriers to those four levels working together? Are there ways we can improve working relationships between those scales.”
Wong said in many instances work was being done on all four levels, but “there hasn’t necessarily been a cohesiveness. They haven’t been working together as a well-oiled machine.”
In searching for solutions, they hope to avoid an “us versus them” mentality.
“We feel it is very easy for us to solve the problem by closing borders or isolating the problem to a certain part of the world. What we’d really like to do is move away from thinking with a ‘us versus them’ dichotomy and move towards a vision were such global missions are shared,” she said.
The BCCIC plans to continue to travel across the province meeting with communities, and will ultimately take their findings to the BC government.
“The governments of Alberta and Manitoba have gotten involved at a provincial level and have made that link between their province on this global issue while the BC government hasn’t gotten involved in that capacity as of yet,” she said.
“We want to present something to them and say ‘this is how we see us potentially having that global reach’.”