A Rossland native is the poster child for a Canadian Red Cross campaign that highlights Canadians providing humanitarian aid in recent emergencies across the world.
Patrice Gordon is the first aid worker honoured in the Red Cross Faces of Humanity project for her compelling work as a medical team leader in earthquake-stricken Nepal in 2015 and her groundwork a year prior in Sierra Leone caring for those infected with the Ebola virus.
The Interior Health nurse practitioner works with First Nations’ communities near her home in the Chilcotin area today but is ready to deploy on her next mission with Red Cross when disaster strikes.
“It was really a great honour to be asked to be part of the Faces of Humanity campaign,” she told the Trail Times via email. “I work with so many people – so many humanitarians – from around the globe, and I have tremendous amounts of admiration and respect for all that they do, for how they give so much of themselves.
“To be asked to represent these fine people is incredibly humbling.”
Gordon launched the campaign earlier this month at an event at Lansdowne Centre in Richmond, where her photo was displayed, along with other select humanitarians. Her keynote speech kicked off several other events planned in the province, where others will share their powerful experience or exhibits will further highlight important Red Cross work.
Faces of Humanity aims to help Canadians gain a greater appreciation for humanitarian impacts of crises, the challenges faced in providing life-saving aid and the approach to meeting those needs, according to Andrew Hopkins, Red Cross communications advisor for B.C. and Yukon.
It’s important to remember that small contributions add up, even when the fight seems larger than the relief push, said Gordon. She adds that interacting with locals on the job keeps her further grounded.
“When we are overseas, we are frequently stopped on the street by mothers, children, families, individuals who see and recognize the Red Cross or red crescent on our T-shirt or vest, and they want to take our hands and thank us for what we are doing for their country,” she shared. “This recognition in the field is really treasured because we can look into the eyes of the people in need and see that we’re making a difference.”
Canada’s humanitarian story is examined through personal accounts of Red Cross aid workers who fought Ebola in West Africa, who responded to the devastating earthquake in Nepal, or who supported refugees fleeing war in Syria. The project demonstrates the diverse backgrounds of Canadian humanitarians by highlighting an array of aid workers from medical professionals like Gordon to engineers, electricians and social workers.
Each year, more than 200 million people are impacted by disasters and emergencies and Canadian humanitarians continue to provide life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable people around the world. Red Cross is one of many humanitarian organizations making contributions to the global community in need.
“Even though there were only a few of us profiled in the Faces of Humanity campaign, we represent not only the Canadian Red Cross humanitarian workers but also those from other organizations and from other countries,” said Gordon. “Every time we go to a disaster, we are supported and work alongside humanitarians from a wide variety of organizations … working together toward a common goal is key in humanitarian work.”