Canadian High Commissioner to Barbados & E.C. observing the 145th Canada Day with Year In Review at the Canadian High Commission (B’dos)

Canada is a peaceful and prosperous nation, one whose values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law are the foundation not only of our society but of our foreign policy. This year, Canadians had the pleasure of marking the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Special events and ceremonies across the country recognized Her Majesty’s extraordinary dedication and service to Canada and celebrated our country’s many achievements during her reign.

“…And the Jubilee Celebrations here in Barbados and elsewhere in the region underlined the common Commonwealth heritage between Canada and the countries of the Eastern Caribbean.”

This year, as we mark the 145th year of Confederation Canadians will be commemorating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Now this is a commemoration perhaps not shared with the same enthusiasm by our neighbours to the South, but it was a major step in our evolution as an independent nation. Major General Sir Isaac Brock, who is largely seen as Canada’s leading “war hero” during this event, served several years in Barbados at the now officially designated UNESCO Historic Garrison, prior deploying to Canada in 1812.

In April of this year, Canada’s Governor General, His Excellency, David Johnston had the honour to visit the Historic Barbados Garrison . During his remarks, he highlighted this historic link and said;-

“Who knows what Major General Sir Isaac Brock learned on the shores of Barbados that allowed Canada to achieve victory 200 years ago!”

What ever it was, the windward breeze, the lime stone filtered water, the blue skies, the soothing sea…it worked and we all stand here today together in peace. The visit to Barbados of His Excellency David Johnson and Mrs. Johnson was certainly a highlight for us this year. His Excellency had the opportunity to reunite with some longstanding friends and collegues during his visit to Bellairs Institute, a place he had visited many times before, when he was the Principal of McGill Univeristy. Pursuing his passion for learning and education, he and the visiting delegation, including representatives of Canadian organizations involved in post secondary education and training, held a thought provoking panel at the Barbados Community College where the topical discussion of tailoring post secondary education to the needs of the workforce was well received.

Accompanying His Excellency, we also had the honour to welcome the Honourable Diane Abolonzcy, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. She announced two major projects under Canada’s Anti Crime Capacity Building Program. The first is a three year Cnd$1.2 Million project for the Regional Security System (RSS) to establish the RSS Police Training Institute.

The second was the donation of a intergrated Ballistics Identification System to the Royal Barbados Police Force which is a component of the Regional Integrated Ballistics Identification Network for the Caribbean. This equipment which I am pleased to say is now installed and operational, is a forensics tool which allows bullet casings found at crime scenes to be matched to the guns they were fired from. Having this equipment is a major step forward in collecting court worthy evidence against criminal elements.

Speaking of courts, Canada has also been actively assisting Barbados in their move toward establishing a Drug Court, an area in which Canada has developed some expertise. Two weeks ago, through a Canada funded program adminsted by the OAS, Barbados hosted a sensitivation workshopfor key stakeholders, which saw the participation of the Justice Kofi Barnes of the Ontario Court of Justice. Attorney General Adriel Braithwaite has fully endorsed this move, and we look forward to assisting in the coming months to bring this court to fruition.

Directly following the visit to Barbados of Canada’s Governor General, we welcomed the visit of the President of CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) It has been a year of announcements for CIDA as FOUR large regional projects were approved. The Caribbean Education for Employment Project, which is being managed by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, is working directly with Caribbean educational institutions to map out and deliver more employment focussed training that will meet the long term needs of the employers in this region.

The second project is called CARILED (Caribbean Local Economic Development). This $19.5 Million 6 year project will focus on 500 micro businesses and small and medium sized enterprises in 6 countries to help lead and develop growth strategies. This project is being implemented in partnership with the Canadian Association of Municipalities.
PROPEL (Promotion of Regional Opportunities for Produce through Enterprises and Linkages) will be delivered in partnership with the Canadian Hunger Foundation, This $19.4 Million 4 year project will focus specifically on increasing both the quality and quantity of grown produce in this region, and build the links to steadily expand regional Caribbean food markets both within the region and extra regionally.

Her Excellency informed the large gathering;- “…The fourth project is one that we can all relate to, as it focusses on Community Disaster Risk Reduction. This 5 year $20 Million project is being run through our partners at the Caribbean Development Bank. The project will consist of enhancing community resiliance in the face of natural disasters. These four projects are of course in addition to a number of other initiatives and partnerships, including our major contirbutions to the CDB, OECS, CARTAC and Compete Caribbean – to name another FOUR. All in the context of Prime Minister Harper’s commitment of $600M to the Caribbean.”

Canada is a strong partner to this region in the area of Disaster management. Since 2007, we have been supporting CDEMA, and this exisiting $20 Million 8 year project will continue to run until 2015. Canada also provides support and training in the areas of Disaster Management through the Department of National Defence. You may have noted the media stories over the past few weeks about Exercise Tradewinds, which was held on Barbados. This military exercise, which saw participation from all of the RSS and most of the CARICOM states, focused on intergrated training in the event of several disasters, some natural some man made.

Canada was a major supporter of this exercise, traditionally led by the United States, providing assistance in advance of this event in preparing the barracks at Paragon to receive visiting personnel, and during the exercises, in several areas including training in diving skills by the Royal Canadian Navy Fleet Diving Unit. There was great interest in the Seabotix VLB 950 (otherwise known as the SeaRobot). This Canadian patented robot is a valuable tool used to detect sunken vessels and effect timely rescues by divers.

The audience also learned – “…(2012) has also seen plenty of success in the area of trade. The Barbados Chamber of Commerce signed an MOU with the Greater Chartottetown Area Chamber of Commerce to share best practices and provide increased opportunities to network their members and will be leading a mission to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia this fall…”

We also supported 3 Trade missions to this region, including a very well attended Canadian Building and Construction Showcase. And over 30 Canadian schools, colleges and universities participated in the annual Schools Fair at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, with many repeat participants who continue to cement the strong educational linkages between Barbados and Canada.

In summarising, Ms Archibald noted;- “…And, of course, we continue to work with CARICOM and the Office of Trade Negotiations to advance discussions on a Canada-Caricom Trade Agreement which will, we hope, provide a contemporary replacement for CARIBCAN, which expires in 2013…”

And, without unnecessarily inserting myself into the just completed budget debate, we were pleased to note the prominance accorded to international business. Prime Minister Stuart has recently completed a successful visit to Toronto, underlining our continuing strong commercial, political and people to people links. And those strong business links are exemplified here tonight through our sponsors, wihout whom we would be unable to host this traditional Canada Day celebration. I want, to particularly thank Andrew Alleyne for once again leading this very important fundraising campaign.

All of these projects, programs, visits and events form an intregal part of Canada’s 10 year Americas Strategy, which Prime Minister Harper announced during his visit to Barbados in 2007 and which he recently reafirmed. The three key pillars are 1) to increase Canadaian and hemispheric economic opportunity, 2) to address insecurity and advance freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law through capacity building, and 3) to build a stable foundation for Canadain engagement through relationships. Our vision for the region remains to work with our partners in the Americas to build a more prosperous, secure and democratic hemisphere.

  • Her Excellency Ruth Archibald, Canadian High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean {Speech delivered on Friday 29 June 2012 at the Canada Day Reception held at the Recreation Club of the Canadian High Commission in Barbados}

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