News Releases

The UWI and Brock University’s Canada-Caribbean Institute to host inaugural symposium

For Release Upon Receipt - February 14, 2020


Recently, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and Brock University (BU) established the Canada-Caribbean Institute, devoted to the study of Canada-Caribbean relations. The Institute will host its inaugural event, a three-day Canada-Caribbean Research Symposium, on February 17-19 in Jamaica at The UWI’s Regional Headquarters.

Caribbean economic growth and trade with Canada, health and the environment, social issues and education, and Caribbean culture and the diaspora are tabled for discussion. The objective of the Symposium is to bring together researchers and scholars across disciplines from universities in Canada and the Caribbean as well as policy makers to address related issues to identify ways to consolidate and revitalise their ongoing relationship.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Canada have had a comfortable friendship and a sustaining partnership for many years. According to Ambassador Dr Richard Bernal, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Global Affairs at The UWI, “Canada has been an empathetic partner for the small island states of the English-speaking Caribbean dating back to the colonial era.  This relationship has been reflected in trade, capital for development, tourism, migration and remittances, as well as in diplomatic solidarity.”

Ambassador Bernal also noted that Canada represents the Caribbean on the board of directors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.  CARIBCAN, a Canadian government initiative aimed at promoting trade and investment as well as providing industrial cooperation through the access of duty-free goods from the countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean to the Canadian market, requires periodic waivers at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). These waivers have been increasingly difficult to obtain and Canada has led the renewal process for the Caribbean on each occasion.

As Canada vies for one of two temporary seats on the UN Security Council for a two-year term which begins in 2021, the Caribbean vote is seen as critical. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is even expected to visit Barbados next week to meet with CARICOM leaders and make his pitch for why Canada should be given a seat on the UN Security Council.

The Canada-Caribbean Institute was established in recognition that in spite of the longstanding partnership between the Caribbean and Canada, there was limited research in this area and no entity dedicated to its study. It will provide a focal point for multi-disciplinary research and teaching to deepen and improve the multi-faceted relationships between Canada and the Caribbean while also examining issues affecting the Caribbean diaspora communities in Canada. Its mission is to deepen existing and forge new relationships between Canadian and Caribbean tertiary educational institutions and other agencies and individuals at home and abroad involved in inter- and multi-disciplinary research and teaching on various aspects of Canada-Caribbean interactions. A formal launch of the Institute is also carded to take place during the February 17-19 Symposium. More information is available at




Notes to Editor


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200 Years of Collaboration



Canada-Caribbean trade had its genesis in the 18th Century with salt cod exchanged for sugar and rum. Financing the trade led to the introduction of Canadian commercial banks such as the Bank of Nova Scotia. A tradition of preferential market access for sugar began with the 1925 Canada-West Indies agreement. Since 1986, trade has taken place within the framework of preferential trade arrangements in the form of the CARIBCAN, which provides one-way duty-free access to the Canadian market. Canada has offered to negotiate the modernisation of CARIBCAN into a more comprehensive Canada-CARICOM Free-Trade Agreement. This was announced in July 2007, but after seven rounds the negotiations have been adjourned but can be re-activated. Canada and Barbados have also concluded a mutual open skies agreement.

Foreign direct investment has played a part in Caribbean economic development, notably in the commercial banking system and Alcan in bauxite mining and alumina refining. Investment in Barbados has been facilitated by bilateral investment treaties and double taxation agreements and Barbados continues to be the offshore financial services centre of choice for Canadian companies. Recently one of the largest Caribbean-owned firms, Sagicor Financial Corporation Limited was purchase by Canadian private-equity firm Alignvest for a reported US$536 million. 

Capital for Development

Canada has supported the Caribbean with development assistance in various spheres. For example, in transportation, Canada gave two ships to assist in the transportation of goods and people during the West Indies Federation of the early 1960s; and Air Canada helped in the start-up and early operations of Air Jamaica. In development banking, Canada was a founding member of the Caribbean Development Bank in 1970 and also cancelled the bilateral debt of several Caribbean countries. Canadian grants funded the construction of buildings on The UWI Cave Hill Campus and Canada Hall at The UWI St. Augustine Campus. Haiti is one of the largest beneficiaries of Canadian development assistance in the Americas since the 2010 earthquake.

Tourism, Migration and Remittances

Approximately 338,000 people of Caribbean origin live in Canada, concentrated in and around Toronto. People of Caribbean origin and descent have distinguished themselves in academia, politics, the judiciary, the church and in sports. More than 770,000 Canadians vacationed in the sun and sea of the Anglophone Caribbean in 2016, mainly during the winter. Temporary seasonal workers and Caribbean-Canadian citizens send about US$20 million of remittances back to the Caribbean.

About The UWI

For over 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Africa including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); the UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies and the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. 

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. The world’s most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, has ranked The UWI among the top 600 universities in the world for 2019 and 2020, and the 40 best universities in Latin America and the Caribbean for 2018 and 2019. The UWI has been the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.  For more, visit