A long-time Pitt Meadows resident and university professor received a coveted provincial honour earlier this week.
Peter Anderson, an associate prof with Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) school of communication, was one of 13 people presented with an Order of B.C. on Sept. 23 in Victoria.
The honour is the province’s most prestigious accolade, acknowledging individuals for their extraordinary contributions the province.
Anderson was recognized for his ongoing work in emergency preparedness to make communities more disaster resilient.
“I'm pleased to have received this award, but with it specifically want to acknowledge all who have worked to reduce risk in their communities,” said Anderson, who was lauded for expertise in emergency communications and the pivotal role he played in everything from provincial forest fires to global tsunamis.
Anderson said he was humbled by the distinction.
He was “pleased that my field of work could be so recognized and honoured, thereby honouring all the people who work, and have worked in this area,” Anderson told The TIMES.
The South Bonson resident was vacationing with family and friends at Eagan Lake in the B.C. Interior in late July when – relayed through several people because of limited contact – he received a message from the province.
“At first I thought it was the province's emergency program contacting me to check in and prepare to provide my services for a forest fire or other large emergency affecting a community somewhere in the province as I am always on-call to assist,” he said.
“Once the real intent for their contact became known, I was in disbelief and I felt there were so many people with whom I have collaborated who deserve this honour along with me,” he said.
Still overwhelmed by the honour months after hearing about it, but only days after being presented the accolades from Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon and Premier Christy Clark, Anderson said he feels like the order recognizes his “life’s work.”
Anderson has played a multitude of key roles in areas of emergency preparedness and disaster mitigation throughout the province and far beyond.
Anderson began his emergency communication research outreach in war-torn Sudan in the 1970s, where he worked to develop a communication system with researchers at Juba University.
Anderson is a pioneer in the use of the Internet for disaster reduction.
He developed and supported the first email gateway to distribute the United Nation’s disaster situation reports and appeals for assistance, along with the first websites for provincial, federal and UN disaster programs.
He was instrumental in assisting with emergency response during the 2003 Okanagan forest fires, a role he took on after heading to Kamloops to volunteer his services.
In 2004, he visited Sri Lanka just days after the tsunami and spent the next three years working with government and community stakeholders to devise a community-based warning system that would aid coastal communities, collaborating further on a new Indian Ocean tsunami-warning system project centred in Thailand.
His early-warning systems approaches have since been applied to rural coastal stretches of B.C.
He has also provided expertise to the United Nations, creating high-tech systems for its disaster relief program, and continues a long-standing relationship with B.C.’s Provincial Emergency Program and Emergency Management B.C., creating and testing new systems for emergency preparedness, as well as search and rescue.
While he’s also been recognized in Canada, the United Nations, and other organizations abroad, he said this recent distinction at home in B.C. is especially meaningful.
“I feel I share it with so many wonderful people with whom I have had the privilege of co-working in our community,” Anderson said. “I'm specifically remembering the late Ian Murray, as well as Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue.”
Proudly, he said, much of his work continues today with a special focus on improving emergency communication and warning capacities in rural and remote regions.
And much of that work, he said, is paying a further dividend. Many of his students – taught in the classroom and the field – have gone on to establish successful careers in emergency management and other areas of risk reduction.
Anderson, 64, has been teaching for more than half of his life. He’s been working at SFU since 1977, taught courses at UBC’s law school, and during a three-year break in Australia taught at the University of Melbourne Law School in Australia. He’s now the director of SFU’s Telematics Research Lab.
@ Copyright 2013