High Commissioners and other diplomats come and go. But nationals residing in an adopted land will always be counted on to be their country of birth’s best ambassadors and sales people.
“I am part of a continuum,” Jamaica’s new High Commissioner to Canada Sheila Sealy-Monteith told Share while on a brief visit to Toronto last weekend. “Our people are our best advertisers, especially at a time when resources are limited and we have to cut our budget in so many areas.
“What I have found quite remarkable in the short time that I have been here is the large number of Jamaicans residing in Canada and the power some of them have to re-direct policies and draw attention to some of the concerns we have in Jamaica. They are a significant resource to help in the development of Jamaica.”
A former teacher-turned-diplomat, Sealy-Monteith replaced Evadne Coye, who returned home last November to become the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“I am honoured to be following a long line of esteemed diplomats who have served our country well in Canada,” she said. “I consider it a great honour also to be given the opportunity to come to a country that has had a long and extremely healthy relationship with the Caribbean and Jamaica. This is a very opportune time for my appointment and I am looking forward to the challenges and opportunities to advance the relationship between our two countries.”
Sealy-Monteith taught Spanish and English at Vere Technical High School and Spanish at Glenmuir High School – her alma mater – before joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1986.
She is expected to be her country’s top diplomat in Canada when Jamaica celebrates its 50th independence anniversary in August 2012.
“In the life of any country, 50 years is something that one should celebrate,” said Sealy-Monteith who served in Jamaica’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York and in the Venezuelan embassy before going to Mexico where she spent the last four-and-half years as her country’s ambassador prior to being assigned to Canada last month.
“We have been very fortunate. We have done well in spite of challenges and there is much to celebrate. It’s also an opportunity for us to pause, look at where we want to continue to go and how we are going to get there.”
A product of the University of the West Indies where she graduated with a Diploma and Masters in International Relations, Sealy-Monteith attended the university’s inaugural Toronto awards gala last Saturday night.