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The Power of Message: A Dialogue on Ethical Communications and International Cooperation

June 25 @ 8:00 am - 10:00 am

BCCIC Web Panel

In the words of Yousuf Karsh “Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera”. What is the lens through which international cooperation should look at its own work? How do others see our work? Is marketing helping to solve problems of inequity, or does it perpetuate them? We must ask of our communications efforts: ‘who is helping whom’?

We should examine the purpose of the images and messages we send through campaigns, advertisements and public engagement materials. The debate between efficacy (the achievement of short-to-medium-term objectives, such as acquiring funding or meeting political campaign targets) and the long-term ethical considerations of attitude, belief, public perception and exploitation (particularly around power, race and position) is always important, but perhaps more crucial than ever.

Drawing upon the work of academics and practitioners locally and globally, this web panel will explore a wide spectrum of troubling questions to help BCCIC understand a path forward in 2020. Time is not on our side, there is urgency in our agendas. Yet even that assumption justifies power imbalances and compromises. The balance between the short term and long term when it comes to public relations, engagement, global citizenship education, fundraising and political campaigning is rife with contradictions. Do we listen to the advice of communications and marketing experts and cater to a target audience’s world views? But then which perspectives are left out? Does simplifying complex messages in a world of social media do harm? How can we demonstrate solidarity from a distance without painting an ‘us’ and ‘them’ divide? 

This conversation has been brewing behind the scenes at BCCIC as we launched public engagement activities in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve decided to go public with this conversation, and have invited several expert panelists to join us. Please see below for their bios. This conversation is sure to spark fresh thinking and reflection! We hope you’ll join us.


What: The Power of Message: A Dialogue on Ethical Communications and International Cooperation

When: June 25, 2020 from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM (PST)

Register Here


Featured Panelists

Samrawit Gougsa is the Communications Officer at Minority Rights Group International, where she coordinates the production of the organization’s reports, documentary films, social media activities and press work. Before stepping into the world of human rights, she worked as a communications professional with NGOs specializing in global health and international development in Cambodia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Samrawit is deeply passionate about advocating for the rights of marginalized communities around the world, particularly in regard to the right to health. She holds an MSc in Global Health and Development from University College London (UCL) and a BA in Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies from Cardiff University.

John Cameron is Associate Professor in the Department of International Development Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He is also a former board member and continuing member of the Human Resources Committee of the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC). His ongoing research includes struggles for Indigenous self-governance and rural development in Bolivia and analysis of the advocacy and marketing and communications strategies of international cooperation civil society organizations based in Canada and other countries of the global North. He is the author of various articles related to this webinar, including: “Development Made Sexy: How it Happened and What it Means” (2010) , “Can Poverty be Funny? The Serious Use of Humour as a Strategy of Public Engagement for Global Justice” (2015) , “Communicating Cosmopolitanism and Motivating Global Citizenship” (2018), “Advocacy, Charity and Struggles for Global Justice in Canada” (2019) and “Ethics vs. Effectiveness in International Development Communication” (2020).

Anu Pala has worked in the non-profit sector for over twenty years in the areas of education, career development, program coordination, vision loss rehabilitation, technology training, project management, and event coordination. Anu has also worked on media and public relations initiatives including radio broadcasting, freelance writing, public speaking, and media coordination for fund raising events. Currently, Anu offers services through her small business, A-Nu Vision Coaching & Consulting, works part-time with the Surrey Women’s Centre, and volunteers with SIETAR BC and the Measuring Up committee through the City of Surrey. In addition, Anu hosts a weekly podcast called A-Nu Vision with Anu and Ira which addresses topics related to health, wellness, and lifestyle. In 1991, Anu lost her vision due to a retinal detachment. Despite this setback, she has not allowed it to define her, but rather uses it to fuel her towards meaningful work-to inspire, motivate and empower others to maximize their potential and opportunities and work towards living a positive and meaningful life. As a woman of colour living with vision loss, Anu values diversity, inclusion, and equality for all.  In April 2019, Anu completed her undergraduate degree in professional communications at Royal Roads University and was the recipient of the founders award. Anu was recently selected to participate in a delegation through BCCIC to attend CSW64, the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations.

Am Johal is Director of SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement and Co-Director of SFU’s Community Engaged Research Initiative. He is author of Ecological Metapolitics and co-author with Matt Hern and Joe Sacco of ‘Global Warming and the Sweetness of Life: A Tar Sands Tale.’ He is the President of 221A Gallery and Vice-Chair of the Indian Summer Festival. Previously, Johal worked on the Vancouver Agreement, a collective effort to address urban economic and social development. He was a co-founder of UBC’s Humanities 101 program and chair of the Impact on Communities Coalition. He has also been an advisor to two provincial cabinet ministers (Transportation and Highways; Community Development, Cooperatives and Volunteers). Johal holds undergraduate degrees in human kinetics (UBC) and commerce (Royal Roads University), an MA in international economic relations from the Institute for Social and European Studies (Hungary) and a PhD in communication and media philosophy from the European Graduate School (Switzerland).

Mariétou Diallo is a communications co-director at Inter Pares, where she co-coordinates Inter Pares’ communication and online fundraising strategies. She is also a member of the public engagement committee and Inter Pares’ French-language media contact. Mariétou completed a Master’s degree in international communication at the Marc Bloch University of Strasbourg (France) and a short Master’s program in project management at Université du Québec en Outaouais. Prior to working at Inter Pares, as a communication assistant at the Council of Europe, she was involved in two of its campaigns :  the  “All different, All equal” campaign  for diversity, human rights and participation, and  the “Combat violence against women including domestic violence” campaign. She was also a project manager for five years for Outaouais-based programs aimed at preventing burnout among caregivers to the elderly.

Alaso Olivia works with the organization No White Saviours, a majority female and majority African team based in Kampala, Uganda. She is a Ugandan Social Worker born and raised in Jinja. She has a passion for helping vulnerable populations and supporting community-driven initiatives. After years of working with various NGOs and seeing harm caused by western do-gooders, she has imagined a better way forward. She is a mum to Lebron James Jr. and a wife to a husband who really enjoys basketball. Family, history and identity are all very important to her and are a main source of her motivation.

Kelsey Nielsen, who also works with No White Saviours, is referred to as the “white saviour in recovery” on the team. It’s important to realize that this is an ongoing process. Her main role is holding herself and fellow white people accountable in a real way. Kelsey received both her bachelors and masters in Social Work from Temple University in Philadelphia.

Lubega Wendy also works for No White Saviours. She is a 27-year old Ugandan engaged in ethics and human rights. She is committed to seeing all peoples treated with dignity and viewed in the fullness of their humanity.


June 25
8:00 am - 10:00 am
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