THE University of the West Indies (The UWI) and Brock University (BU) established the Canada-Caribbean Institute, devoted to the study of Canada-Caribbean relations. The Institute will host its inaugural event, a three-day Canada-Caribbean Research Symposium, on February 17-19 in Jamaica at The UWI’s Regional Headquarters.
Caribbean economic growth and trade with Canada, health and the environment, social issues and education, and Caribbean culture and the diaspora are tabled for discussion. The objective of the Symposium is to bring together researchers and scholars across disciplines from universities in Canada and the Caribbean as well as policy makers to address related issues to identify ways to consolidate and revitalise their ongoing relationship.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Canada have had a comfortable friendship and a sustaining partnership for many years. According to Ambassador Dr Richard Bernal, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Global Affairs at The UWI, “Canada has been an empathetic partner for the small island states of the English-speaking Caribbean dating back to the colonial era. This relationship has been reflected in trade, capital for development, tourism, migration and remittances, as well as in diplomatic solidarity.”
Ambassador Bernal also noted that Canada represents the Caribbean on the board of directors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. CARIBCAN, a Canadian government initiative aimed at promoting trade and investment as well as providing industrial cooperation through the access of duty-free goods from the countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean to the Canadian market, requires periodic waivers at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). These waivers have been increasingly difficult to obtain and Canada has led the renewal process for the Caribbean on each occasion.
As Canada vies for one of two temporary seats on the UN Security Council for a two-year term which begins in 2021, the Caribbean vote is seen as critical. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is even expected to visit Barbados next week to meet with CARICOM leaders and make his pitch for why Canada should be given a seat on the UN Security Council.
The Canada-Caribbean Institute was established in recognition that in spite of the longstanding partnership between the Caribbean and Canada, there was limited research in this area and no entity dedicated to its study. It will provide a focal point for multi-disciplinary research and teaching to deepen and improve the multi-faceted relationships between Canada and the Caribbean while also examining issues affecting the Caribbean diaspora communities in Canada. Its mission is to deepen existing and forge new relationships between Canadian and Caribbean tertiary educational institutions and other agencies and individuals at home and abroad involved in inter- and multi-disciplinary research and teaching on various aspects of Canada-Caribbean interactions. A formal launch of the Institute is also carded to take place during the February 17-19 Symposium.