Canadian companies, which comprise nearly 75 per cent of the international financial community in Barbados, are taking full advantage of the updated economic treaty between the two countries to do business in the Caribbean island, says Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
Barbados developed its financial regulatory structures largely to address Canadian rules and reporting standards. Canadians built the initial infrastructure for the now flourishing Barbados tourism industry and, each year, an estimated 70,000 Canadian visitors arrive via direct flights or by cruise ships.
In addition, the two countries are signatories to double taxation and foreign investment protection agreements and a transfer of offenders’ treaty.
In the feature address at the ninth annual Barbados Charity Ball in Toronto last Saturday night, Stuart announced that a group of Canadians have demonstrated a keen interest in investing in the Bridgetown Pierhead Marina Project. He did not provide further details.
The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service established an office in Barbados in 1907 and the two countries established diplomatic ties shortly after Barbados achieved its independence on November 30, 1966.
“Barbados has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with Canada which has been a major trading partner,” said Stuart. “Major Canadian commercial banks have all found Barbados to be a good place to do business. The fact that the Royal Bank of Canada last year celebrated 100 years of existence in Barbados is testimony to the continuous confidence of the Canadian banking sector in Barbados and Barbadians. The Bank of Nova Scotia and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce have also expanded their presence in the Barbadian economy.”
On his second visit to Toronto since becoming Prime Minister in October 2010 following the death of David Thompson, Stuart told nationals that Barbados is holding its own in the challenging economic environment.
“We have not been immune to the world downturn and like most countries, we cannot ignore the fact that necessary steps have to be taken to protect the standard of living to which Barbadians have grown accustomed,” said Stuart who was the keynote speaker at the Democratic Labour Party Canada chapter’s annual fundraiser last October. “We did not attain this high standard by accident. We did so by a clear vision, careful planning and use of limited resources and sensible implementation of our programs. As we continue in that vein to battle the world economic crisis, my government will continue to take the necessary steps to protect the economy along with the most vulnerable and marginalized.”
Former Barbados Consul General, Kay McConney, conceived the idea for the establishment of Barbados Ball Canada Aid (BBCA) to provide annual post-secondary bursaries and financial assistance to charitable organizations that offer health care services and programs and assist youth with disabilities.
Stuart thanked McConney, who attended last Saturday night’s event, for her vision and leadership and the BBCA committee for organizing the fundraiser.
“As Prime Minister, I commend you for the sterling contributions made to Barbadians in the areas of education through scholarships to assist students in Canada, and health services, more specifically the contributions made to the enhancement of facilities at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital,” he said. “The remittances from Barbadians in the Diaspora continue to impact positively on the foreign reserves of our nation.”
Five students were recipients of scholarships named in memory of former BBCA founding member and president, John Rollock. The recipients were Ashley Manson, Kadiejra O’Neal, Janice Prescod, Cherise Roberts and Adriel Skeete.
An Ontario Scholar and active community volunteer, Manson graduated with a double major honours degree in French and Human Rights Law & Policy from Carleton University and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Globalization at McMaster University.
O’Neal enters the Ontario College of Art and Design in September to pursue image art photography studies while Prescod – who aspires to be a medical doctor – graduated from St. Marguerite d’Youville Secondary School in Brampton and will study Biology next semester at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University.
A co-founder of Barbados’ Coda Flute Quartet and the principal flautist with the Barbados National Symphony Orchestra, Roberts will come to Canada in September to continue her musical studies at Acadia University. Skeete, a 2009 Iona Catholic Secondary School graduate, is enrolled in Sheridan College’s Information Technology Support Services program. He was born in Canada to Barbadian parents.
“I, however, consider Barbados home away from home because I visit the island regular with my mom and I love it,” he said.
York University Master’s student Jessica Rayne was presented with the $5,000 Barbados Canadian Friendship scholarship. She dropped out of high school in Ottawa in Grade 10 and spent two years working in call centres, travelling and doing correspondence courses before returning to an adult learning center to complete her high school education.
“I was hanging out with the wrong crowd and I never felt as I if fitted into the high school environment back then,” she gave as her reasons for the two year hiatus.
After securing her high school diploma, Rayne moved to Toronto at age 19 and enrolled in Humber College and then York University. Her Master’s thesis is titled: “An Exploratory Study of the Afro-Caribbean Male’s Pursuit of University Education in Canada: The Role of the Family as a Source of Social Capital.”
The BBCA has presented $75,000 in scholarships to 22 students in the past five years.
Winnipeg-based filmmaker and social worker, Ernesto Griffith, was presented with the BBCA Award which was launched in 2008 to recognize a Barbadian in the Diaspora for outstanding professional and/or community service. He played Billy Beal in the feature film Billy which received rave reviews across North America and was awarded the Human Rights Commitment Award and the Best Narrative Feature Film prize at the Winnipeg Real to Reel Film Festival.
Born in Massachusetts in 1874, Beal was one of the first Black settlers in Manitoba.
“I like to research Black history and I enjoy telling our stories and telling them well,” Griffith said.
Griffith moved from England to Manitoba with his parents in 1975. He started writing comedy at age 13 and formed Brandon’s first rap group, Deep Six, while he was enrolled at Brandon University where he graduated with a Psychology degree. He has worked as a model in print ads and is a talented singer/songwriter. He wrote the theme music for Billy.
BY RON FANFAIR