This Saturday marks the sixth anniversary of what's been called "The Great East Japan Earthquake," the 9.0-magnitude earthquake which struck near the northeastern coast of Japan in 2011 and caused a massive tsunami.

The earthquake and resulting wave led to the destruction of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, killed and injured thousands, and left many more homeless.

To commemorate and learn from the event, UBC's Institute of Asian Research is holding a workshop today, with  speakers and a documentary film concerning current events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and the lives of evacuees in the surrounding communities. 

David Edgington is a professor of human geography at UBC, and will be speaking about his recent visit to the Fukushima power plant.

David Edgington

Professor of human geography at UBC, David Edgington travelled to the Fukushima power plant to assess the fallout from the tsunami damage. (Martin Dee/UBC)

He says British Columbians are vulnerable to a similar size earthquake and tsunami, and can find lessons in the Japanese experience. 

"The research on the reconstruction is that it's a bit of a marathon," said Edgington. "It took about the first year or two just to move the debris away from the coast line and the residential areas, and then each local city had to come up with a plan to move vulnerable communities right away from the coast."

Edgington said if an earthquake and tsunami similar to the Japanese event occurred off the B.C. coast, it could hit the west and south sides of Vancouver Island as well as the Lower Mainland. 

That's a reminder for communities to prepare their emergency management plans, he said.