A delegation of at least nine Whistlerites will be journeying to Beijing in September to represent the Sea to Sky corridor at the B.C.-Canada Pavilion.
The group will be staged in the pavilion on Sept. 8 and 9, two days after the start of the Paralympic Games, and will be presenting information on accessibility and environmental sustainability.
Organizer William Roberts, president of The Whistler Forum, said the delegation has been put together to create stronger connections in Beijing and China at large.
“Our view is that we are building people-to-people connections, as well as business-to-business connections,” explained Roberts.
Four members of Leadership Sea to Sky Cohort IV will be traveling with Roberts to Beijing, including Lisa Ames, Bill Brown, Bruce Stewart and David Thompson. And according to Roberts, four other locals have also expressed interest in participating.
Also, Chinese-Canadian Helene Huang from Whistler will be part of the delegation.
The idea to get involved in the B.C.-Canada Pavilion came after a team within Leadership Sea to Sky Cohort III researched ways to strengthen the gateway to China and strongly recommended using the 2008 and 2010 Olympics as a springboard for involvement.
“It is not a coincidence that we are going at the Paralympic opening in Beijing,” said Brown.
“That is a strategy move in order to emphasize the host to host relationship.”
Currently, the group has lined up several meetings with key Chinese groups, including the Chinese Disabled Persons Federation, the China Environmental Protection Foundation, two top officials with the Chinese government and a slew of other contacts made through the Canadian Embassy in Beijing and the Canadian China Business Council.
Roberts said creating dialogue with China is a healthy approach to address some of the controversial issues surrounding the up-coming Summer Games.
“Our view is that we can affect change and improve the health of communities, regions and countries more if we talk to each other about our best practices,” said Roberts.
“It is a complicated story with the Tibetan communities…. The Olympics is not planning to solve all these problems, but through these high profile events and face to face meetings, we can learn what is going on there, and then they (China) can learn about Canada and work forward towards solutions.”
Whistler is one of four B.C. community delegations that will be present at the pavilion, which opened Thursday, May 22. The others are from Kamloops, Prince George and Metro Vancouver. Kamloops is showcasing at the pavilion this week, on May 29 and 30.
Tourism Whistler is also sending a representative from its team to the pavilion for several weeks in August.
“We’ve been working with a tourism consortium including Tourism B.C., Tourism Vancouver and the Canadian Tourism Commission,” said Tourism Whistler spokesperson Breton Murphy.
“Right now we are in the process of deciding which dates we’ll be there and which representatives will be on which days to maximize our coverage.”
Murphy added that Tourism Whistler is not going just to ensure Whistler has a presence during the Summer Games, but also to make connections with accredited and unaccredited media.
The Sea to Sky delegation is currently open to anyone interested, said Roberts, and the cost for the 13-night trip is $2,800, including airfare and hotel accommodation. An information session on the Leadership Sea to Sky delegation to the B.C.-Canada Pavilion will be held on Monday, June 9 at the Whistler Public Library from 7 to 8:30 p.m.