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• His work with Artists for Peace and Justice
• UN Ambassadorship for The World Food Programme
Thursday, February 07, 2008
So what do we do? What can we do? And why aren't we doing it?
Sgt. Debbie Bodkin is a member of the Waterloo Regional Police Service, but in 2004 she travelled to Darfur to interview the survivors of the conflict (or more accurately the genocide) and get an idea of what's going on for the United Nations. That was three years ago. And nothing's changed. Why?
I think the thing that got me about this interview is that there are so many people who want to do something, who want to affect change, who want to give the people of Darfur a better life free of conflict, but as much as they try, they can't. What also hit me is how much our hands are tied if we want to make a change. The fact that Sgt. Bodkin, a member of a respected police force and a part of a volunteer United Nations team, would receive a form letter from her government representative dated three days before she wrote her letter blows my mind. Three f***ing days. And it wasn't even addressed to her (it said "Dear Constituent") What blows my mind even more is the fact that this conflict has been going on for years and years and it's not a deep, dark hidden secret... everyone knows what's going on, but yet nothing's being done on the International stage to stop it. Why?
And it's not like there are individuals who don't care about the people of Darfur... there are many Canadians, high-profile or not, that want to make a difference. People who want our government, our elected representatives, to use their resources and put a stop to this ongoing tragedy. But it's not happening. Why? Aren't Canadians known on the International stage as Peacekeepers intent on helping other nations in need and giving others the same basic rights and freedoms we enjoy here in Canada? Isn't that one of the reasons we're in Afghanistan? Isn't that what Romeo Dallaire tried to do in Rwanda, even when most of the International community turned their back on him and his mission? Shouldn't we live up to Lester B. Pearson's example and make a difference, not through war or aggression, but through Peacekeeping and humanitarian effort? Pearson won the Nobel Peace prize in 1957 along with the admiration and respect of the International community for his suggestion to create a United Nations Emergency Force (which eventually became the Peacekeepers) to diffuse the Suez Canal Crisis? Why aren't we living up to that example and using everything in our power to make a difference to the people that need it?
I don't wear rose coloured glasses, I know that Canada is not perfect. We have our own litany of problems and issues that need to be resolved to take care of our own people. But you know what? Generally, we have it pretty good. Or at least have the opportunity to have a pretty damn good life. So if we're sitting pretty, enjoying the benefits, rights and priviledges that come with living in Canada, why aren't we doing more to help others in the world who don't have those basic human needs and a chance to a better life? What can we do? What should we do? Beyond donating money to relief organizations, is there anything else we can do?
Well, maybe there's one thing. I don't know if it would work, but something is better than nothing. Sgt. Debbie Bodkin wrote to her member of Parliament and got a form letter back. What if we all wrote a letter to our local MP asking for action from the Canadian government to help the situation in Darfur? Not that I think that people haven't written letters to the government to ask for action in Darfur, I know people who have written many letters. But maybe, just maybe, if we all do it, maybe the government will see that the Canadian people, as a collective whole, want them to act. That we want them to stand up on the International Stage and say enough is enough. Something needs to be done. And something needs to be done now.