In Kamloops, we are amazingly blessed with the peace we have. Not just peace, but the confidence that all things considered, we have the means to deal with any issues that may arise.
I was at the Tournament Capital Centre on Thursday when the bomb threat at the centre was reported. The first sign that something was up was when a staff member looked out the window and said ‘there are cop cars blocking all the entrances’. Within a minute, they came back and calmly announced there was a bomb threat and the building was being evacuated.
Along with everyone else, I gathered up my stuff. Before I was at the exit, the fire alarm was sounding. We all evacuated the building and calmly went on our way.
Next door at Thompson Rivers University, emergency responses were kicked in too, with one TRU building emptied and staff responsible for emergencies ensuring communication with the police.
While the emergency response teams were right on top of things securing the TCC and TRU buildings and bringing in the bomb and sniffer dog from Kelowna, everyone else had the confidence to go on with their days.
Although no bomb was found, what matters more is how smoothly things went. From the cops responding so quickly, to the building being emptied, from traffic being diverted, to the dog squad coming from Kelowna, everyone knew their part.
In the summer, emergency services, TRU and others came together to do a training exercise for just such a scenario. It was evident from how smoothly things worked that the different agencies in the city know how to talk to each other.
As much as there are threats around the world, in Canada we are well positioned to deal with possible threats. The response yesterday to the bomb threat in Kamloops would be similar in towns across Canada. We have an extremely well-coordinated system for responding to emergencies of all types.
While emergency services are important for peace, there is something else which is essential for peace as well. That is caring and concern for others. There is a group in Kamloops called RAFT (Refugees and Friends Together) who are working together to bring 4 or 5 Syrian refugee families to Kamloops and area.
The families, who have children as young as newborns, have fled a region where multiple factions, including their own government, the Assad regime, are inflicting major death and destruction on civilians. It is estimated more than 200,000 have died in the Syrian civil war, of which more than half are civilians.
Unlike either armies, militias, or terrorists, civilians don’t have guns. All they have is the tenacity and wherewithal to flee their homes and get their families to safety. Over 4.2 million Syrians have fled their homes. It is their neighbouring countries who have accepted the vast majority with 2.2 million in Turkey, 1.2 million in Lebanon, 1.4 million in Jordan. When people flee war zones, they leave behind all they knew for the sole wish to keep their families safe.
While Canada has committed to 25,000 by the end of the year, Sweden has already taken 78,000, and tiny Netherlands has taken 36,000.
Taking Syrian refugees in Kamloops is an act of peace.
Whether it is local communities committing the necessary resources and money so that emergency services are well trained, or it is local groups working to help refugees find a new home, peace comes from people caring about others. Both are important to keep peace happening in Kamloops.