UWI Strengthening Canada-Caribbean Relations

Regional Headquarters, Jamaica, Friday, 13 December 2019—Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI), Professor Sir Hilary Beckles is pleased to announce that the proposal for the establishment of the Canada-Caribbean Institute (CCI) was approved at a meeting of the University Finance and General Purposes Committee UFGPC) on October 30, 2019.

The new Institute, which is a collaboration with Brock University in Canada, will provide multi-disciplinary research and teaching to deepen and improve the relations between Canada and the Caribbean, and serve to examine issues affecting the Caribbean diaspora communities in Canada. 

Discussions on the establishment of the Institute began earlier this year following the signing of an agreement between Vice-Chancellor Beckles and President and Vice-Chancellor of Brock University, Gervan Fearon, (the first Caribbean descendant to head a Canadian University Canada). It is anticipated that The UWI and Brock University have both completed their approval processes for the establishment of the CCI by early 2020 and will jointly mount a three-day Canada-Caribbean Research Symposium in February 2020.

The CCI’s mission more specifically, seeks to build upon and revitalize existing partnerships, while forging new ones among Canadian and Caribbean tertiary education institutions, government agencies and civil society. Included among examples of planned activities for the Institute are cooperation and exchange among faculty, students and other persons interested in Canada-Caribbean relationships; facilitating the formation of partnerships, the co-production and sharing of knowledge, development of joint programmes, and hosting of conferences and seminars.

The need for an institute dedicated to Canada-Caribbean studies is based upon recognition that despite the importance of Canada-Caribbean relations there has been limited research in this area and no entity dedicated to its study.

Canada and Caribbean countries have had relationships dating back hundreds of years in a variety of areas, such as trade, investment, security cooperation, development assistance, diplomatic relations and many countries of the Caribbean having been colonies of Britain, have a legacy of a shared language, common institutions, culture affinities and experienced history. Thousands of Canadians vacation annually in the Caribbean; there is an extensive Caribbean diaspora in Canada, temporary workers from the Caribbean are engaged seasonally in agriculture and hospitality, and many citizens of the Caribbean further their studies at colleges and universities in Canada.

 According to Pro Vice-Chancellor, Global Affairs, Ambassador Dr. Richard Bernal “Canada has been the Caribbean’s most empathetic and consistent development partner and hence an assured complacency has set in and it is time to reinvigorate the partnership while consolidating the existing foundations”.

The CCI is the latest addition in a cluster of international centres launched by The UWI. It demonstrates another tangible implementation of the regional university’s thrust to globalize; a key objective framed within its Triple A Strategy (Strategic Plan 2017-2022). This focus, in fact, earned The UWI recognition in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings in 2019 and 2020 for its international outlook which placed it among the top 10% of universities world-wide in this category.