The UWI and Canada’s Brock University launch joint Institute for Canada-Caribbean Affairs

It was an historic event at the Regional Headquarters of The University of the West Indies (The UWI) on February 17, 2020 when The UWI and Canada’s Brock University finally launched a joint institute to promote, transform, and upgrade two hundred years of solid relations that have facilitated Caribbean development.

There was a celebratory mood at the launch ceremony. Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica, Her Excellency Laurie Peters, who was a quiet but effective supporter of the project from the beginning, was in attendance, along with officials from both universities. The launch ceremony was followed by a two-day symposium on Canada-Caribbean relations.

Joint founder of the Institute, Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, stated in his opening remarks, “The economic history of the region shows that Canada has been CARICOM’s leading and most reliable economic development partner in the post-independence era.”

“As a result,” he said, “the time has come to reengineer and upgrade this very special mutual development bridge in light of the new challenges facing both regions such as the corrosiveness of climate change, instability in the global banking and finance sector, the cultural underpinnings surrounding the movement of labour, diversification of vital tourism products, and new opportunities for participation in cultural industries.”

Prof. Gervan Fearon, President and Vice-Chancellor, Brock University and Prof. Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor, The University of the West Indies (The UWI)

Joint architect of the project, President and Vice-Chancellor of Brock University, Professor Gervan Fearon, a distinguished economist and expert in the economic development theories of Sir Arthur Lewis, spoke of the importance of showing research respect for the historic excellence illustrated in Canada-Caribbean bonding, and how this can stimulate new projects in the future.

Professor Fearon insisted that the integrity that shapes the culture of collaboration which binds these regions should not be taken for granted. Speaking also as a diaspora son of Jamaica, he pledged that his professional commitment to the Institute transcends the specific world of the universities and resides in the broader theme of economic development in the Caribbean and in ensuring that the ‘gold star’ partnering continues to mutual benefit in the next two decades.

High Commissioner Peters perceived that the future world to be found in Canada’s technological transformation could have significant implications for the Caribbean in areas like digital transformation, science and technology applications such as robotics in production and artificial intelligence in planning. These areas, she noted, should inform the work of the Institute.

Photo Caption (L-R): H.E. Laurie Peters, Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica; Prof. Gervan Fearon, President and Vice-Chancellor, Brock University; Prof. Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor, The University of the West Indies (The UWI); Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade and Ambassador Dr. Richard Bernal, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Practice, Global Affairs, The UWI, celebrate the inaugural Canada-Caribbean Research Symposium hosted by the Canada Caribbean Institute (CCI) and organized by The University of the West Indies and Brock University of Canada at The UWI Regional Headquarters in Jamaica on February 17, 2020.