Canada and Guyana have enjoyed a long and healthy relationship that High Commissioner Francois Montour intends to maintain.
The federal government established its presence in Guyana in 1964 with the launch of a mission and full diplomatic relations were established two years later when Guyana secured its independence from Britain.
“I am simply there to maintain and build on the relationship in terms of commercial, technical and knowledge exchange assistance,” Montour, who is also Canada’s Plenipotentiary representative to CARICOM, said at a reception hosted by Guyana’s honorary Consul General, Danny Doobay.
“My background has been in development and I have been in many developing countries around the world either short or long-term. I can tell you that it did not take me too long to realize how much resources Guyana has for its own development and the opportunities that exist in your country. Because of that, the future of the country is very optimistic and I will try my best to work with your government to make sure the future is bright.”
Prior to going to Guyana, Montour was assigned to the Canadian embassy in Haiti as chief of Canadian Cooperation in October 2004. He was also accredited to neighbouring Dominican Republic.
Montour returned to Haiti earlier this year to fill in briefly for an overwhelmed High Commissioner Claude Bouchard in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that claimed nearly 250,000 lives.
“Haiti now needs a lot of help and I know the Guyanese people have been very forthcoming in efforts to aid that country,” he said. “I have never seen something like that in my life and I hope I will never see that destruction and devastation again. Haitian people are resilient and they are hoping to start a new life to rebuild their country with the assistance of the international community, including Guyana.”
A certified general accountant who joined the federal public service in 1982 as a financial officer for Canada’s comptroller general, Montour said he’s relishing his first experience as his country’s top diplomat overseas.
“I am learning in the new role and I could not fall into a better place to learn because Guyanese have been extremely hospitable,” said Montour who has held several positions with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). “I feel I am at home when I am in Guyana. I have been to Kaieteur Falls and my two daughters joined me during March break. They loved it and they are coming back for a longer stay in the summer.”
At the reception held in Thornhill, Montour met several Guyanese-Canadian organization leaders and former Member of Parliament and Order of Ontario recipient, Ovid Jackson and banking executive and community volunteer, Winston Kassim, who was appointed to the Order of Canada last year.