Being good global neighbours

Austin M.
Austin M. Davis
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City of Moose Jaw declares International Development Week until Saturday

Vicki Nelson believes Saskatchewanians can make a difference in the rest of the world.

“We definitely can make a difference. We have to. The world’s depending on us,” said Nelson, executive director for the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation (SCIC).

The City of Moose Jaw joined other municipalities in the province by declaring this week International Development Week.

“It’s a statement by city council and by the mayor that Moose Javians are interested in international issues and they’re engaged on topics like poverty and human rights,” Nelson said. “It’s also an encouragement for people to learn more about these issues and get more engaged.”

The annual event runs until Feb. 8.

Nelson said the week puts emphasis on two parts of the same cause.

“On one side, it’s a celebration of all the work that’s happening and goes on around the globe 365 days a year. Much of it isn’t seen because it’s people working out of this country, doing work that is necessary to keep people alive,” Nelson said.

“The other side of it is sort of a reminder that there are still these monster problems, these giant issues like global poverty, access to clean water, environment degradation, indigenous rights, human rights and all these things. They remain problems.”

Nelson said a majority of SCIC events are celebratory, but it’s important to encourage municipalities to get involve and remind people that work is being done in other countries the other 51 weeks of the year.

In addition the City of Moose Jaw’s declaration, the Moose Jaw Public Library has set up a display on international materials. About 25 libraries in the province have set up displays.

Nelson said there are ways for all Saskatchewanians to make a difference for those who need it more.

“We encourage people to think about ways that they can engage in their communities and try to solve these big problems from right here in the middle of the prairies,” Nelson said.

As consumers, purchasing fair-trade coffee and sweat-shop free clothing are a couple ways to make a positive impact in the world’s balance.

“People get burnt out by the images of the naked, starving children on TV. It’s not just awareness. People, I think, know that there are other poor people in the world but it’s that deeper awareness of how we as Canadians are kind of complicit in that poverty,” Nelson said.

She said education is something each one of us must take upon ourselves. Learning about trade policies, where our goods are made and where the food we eat is grown can generate the sharing of information needed to propel a movement.

The SCIC is holding galas in Saskatoon and Regina to recognize people who have made outstanding contributions as global citizens. Over nearly 25 years, the awards have been given out to over 100 people.

Nelson said “hundreds and hundreds” of Saskatchewanians are helping tackle global issues.

“SCIC is well-positioned to get to hear the stories of people who work overseas or people who are involved in these organizations, so maybe we forget that the rest of the world doesn’t know,” Nelson said.

Organizations: SCIC, International Development, Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation Moose Jaw Public Library

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina

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