Last OECS envoy leaves Canada on positive note



Brendon Browne has left Canada as the last High Commissioner for the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) full of praise for the opportunity to help promote the political, economic and social interests of the seven full members.

Browne came to Canada four years ago as the OECS’s fifth top diplomat since the high commission was established in 1982.

“We needed a boost when I arrived and I think I was able to raise the profile of our states as an ideal region not just for tourism but also investment,” said Browne. “Being appointed Dean of the CARICOM corps in December 2009 also provided me with the opportunity to showcase the entire region.

“The other thing I was able to accomplish was to bring nationals together and get their suggestions on various things like policy formation. It seemed to me that there was a disconnect between nationals in the Diaspora and their native land and I wanted to bridge that gap. We may be small in size, but we are a people with intelligence and capacity and I wanted to bring that to the fore…I feel enriched by my experience in Canada.”

Browne returned last Sunday to his native St. Vincent & the Grenadines without his wife of nearly 25 years. Arlene Keane-Browne passed away last December after a lengthy illness.

“It has been a very difficult time for me because she contributed to my growth and development,” he said. “The private pain I suffer since her loss has been very sharp.”

Prior to taking up the diplomatic post in Ottawa, Browne spent five years in Canada up until 1981 attending the University of Windsor where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Relations and a Masters in Political Science.

He was a Teacher’s Assistant at the university before returning to St. Vincent & the Grenadines to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an Assistant Secretary and Acting Charge d’affairs at the United Nations. He also worked with his country’s Ministry of Tourism, Education & Culture and Health & the Environment before becoming Cabinet Secretary in April 2001.

Browne plans to write his memoirs which will reflect his life as a public servant and diplomat.

He leaves Canada just two months after the OECS Heads of Government agreed to close the Ottawa High Commission. In light of the international financial crisis and global recession, they concluded it was no longer sustainable or viable to operate the diplomatic office.

“It was to be noted that, increasingly, the focus of engagement between Canada and the Member States of the OECS had shifted as a result of Canada’s policy of decentralization in respect to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA),” said the Heads of Government. “This policy saw the relocation of key CIDA personnel and related operations to Canada’s High Commission in Barbados. As a result, the focus of the collaborative efforts involving Canadian and OECS Member State officials had shifted to the region and, in particular, Barbados.”

The High Commission is expected to close in December.

Previous High Commissioners include J. Bernard Yankey who died a year ago after sustaining injuries in a vehicular accident in his native Dominica, Laurine Fenton of Montserrat, Grenadian George “Mario” Bullen who succumbed to prostate cancer in March 2009 and St. Lucian Lorraine Williams.

The OECS’ other overseas missions are in Geneva and Brussels.

The organization’s full member states are Antigua & Barbuda, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis and Montserrat. The British Virgin Islands and Anguilla are associate members.

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