Walking in Madeline Blackman’s shoes is going to be quite a chore. New Antigua & Barbuda Consul General Janil Greenaway acknowledges that. She intends, however, to carve her own niche and leave an indelible mark as her country’s top diplomat in Canada.
Last July, Greenaway replaced Blackman who came to Toronto in 1977 as an 18-year-old to work with the tourist office. She also served as Consul, Director General of Tourism and Consul General before retiring from the civil service last month.
“It’s an honour for me to serve my country and to promote the interests of Antigua & Barbuda in Canada,” Greenaway told Share. “Although I am the Consul General in Toronto, I have the responsibility of serving nationals in Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta and also of working with nationals wherever they are in Canada.
“Apart from the standard consular services, my priority is to use this office and the resources here to promote Antigua & Barbuda as a country for nationals and Canadians to invest. Given the current unpredictable economic climate, there is pressure on our government to justify the use of resources. It’s very expensive to maintain a presence overseas, particularly in a developed country where the cost of living can be pretty high.”
Greenaway comes to Toronto from New York, where she was the Minister Counsellor at the United Nations for five years. That was her first diplomatic assignment.
“At the UN, my focus was on multilateral issues,” she said. “Here, I will be dealing with things that are bilateral related and that is something that’s going to be quite new for me. I am excited by the challenge. I knew I would be doing something different when I was given this assignment. The idea of being given the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone is appealing and a welcomed change.”
A graduate of the University of the West Indies with a political science degree and the University of Pittsburgh with a Masters in International Affairs, Greenaway said she always had an interest in international relations.
“It was just something that appealed to me,” said Greenaway, who also has a graduate certificate in Latin American & Caribbean Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. “As a little girl, I used to look forward to seeing the international news on our first TV at home while my other family members were mostly interested in national news. It was just a matter of what point I would make the transition because I also love writing.”
After graduating from the University of the West Indies, Greenaway worked for four years as a writer and later associate editor at the defunct Sun Printing & Publishing Company which was owned by Allen Stanford who is in a Houston prison awaiting trial on charges of masterminding a $7 billion Ponzi scheme.
The Antigua Sun, which began operating in 1988, folded last April.
While at The Antigua Sun, Greenaway was cast in The Sweetest Mango, the first feature film to emerge from the Eastern Caribbean that was produced a decade ago in Antigua by HAMA Productions. The movie made history by being the biggest grossing film ever to show in Antigua.
“That was a fun project that I thoroughly enjoyed,” Greenaway, who also was the 1997 Miss Antigua & Barbuda pageant runner-up, recalled. “I was working at the time, so I used my lunch hours to do the filming. Being in the film and in the pageant helped me to meet people and network and those contacts proved useful in my professional development.”
Antigua & Barbuda’s Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer expressed confidence that Greenaway will be successful in her new role in Toronto.
“She comes to the position with a wealth of knowledge and experience,” he said. “She’s fully competent to take Antigua & Barbuda’s foreign policy to the international community and my government looks forward to her contributions in further developing closer relations between Antigua & Barbuda and the Diaspora in Canada.”
Greenaway, who is in her mid-30s, is the youngest Caribbean Consul General in Toronto.