The world is facing complex challenges, including in Afghanistan and Ukraine, and it is vital to have strong multilateral structures to respond in a time of crisis, said Canadian High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Jeanette Stovel.
“We will keep engaging with partners like Brunei to protect, reform, and renew the rules-based international order,” she said.
Speaking at a celebration marking Canada Day at the Mutiara Ballroom of Radisson Hotel in the capital yesterday, the high commissioner added that they are working hard to resettle at least 40,000 Afghan refugees in Canada, who will join the over one million Muslims in Canada who enrich the society and contribute to building the nation with their cultures and traditions.
She also said that Canada has demonstrated its commitment to ASEAN for the past 45 years, supporting its central role in bringing peace and prosperity to Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific.
“As ASEAN and Canada celebrate the 45th anniversary this year as a Dialogue Partner, Canada’s ambition is to become a Strategic Partner, expand the scope of their cooperation and deepen their engagement where ASEAN and Canada are already invested, and explore new areas of mutual interest,” the high commissioner said.
She stressed that Canada has and will continue to strive for inclusive economic growth and COVID recovery, including promoting the economic empowerment of women, and advancing, thanks to Brunei’s leadership in 2021, the ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement negotiations.
“Our long-standing relationship has allowed Canada and ASEAN to deepen people-to-people ties. We will continue to invest in life-long learning through the Canada-ASEAN Scholarship and Educational Exchanges for Development (SEED) programme and I am delighted to announce that the first Bruneian students, nine of them, have been granted the SEED scholarship and will make their way to Canada to study over the next few months.”
She said that Canada recognises that the world is facing a learning crisis in which millions of children worldwide are not developing the essential skills and knowledge they need to succeed, a situation aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
She added that literacy and education go hand in hand, explaining why she has focussed her time in the Sultanate on these issues.
The Canadian High Commission has been working with local universities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to increase access to books from Canada, including a children’s book that recounts the story of when a mosque from Winnipeg was moved more than 4,000 kilometres north to Inuvik so that the Muslim community in that village had a place to pray.
The high commission is providing several copies of the book to the Reading and Literacy Association of Brunei (ReLA) and the National Library as well as providing other books to Universiti Brunei Darussalam and Universiti Teknologi Brunei to add to their shelves of Canadian books in their libraries.
“Canada is also proud to support the #SheLeadsHere campaign, which aims to open doors for young woman advocates and leaders, in all their diversity where through this campaign, the high commission will engage in participation on issues with these young local women leaders,” she said.
She announced the selection of Lailatul Zubaidah binti Haji Mohd Hussain as the champion of Canada’s #SheLeadsHere campaign in Brunei.
Stovel extended her sincere gratitude to His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the government, all their interlocutors in academia, diplomacy and the business community and her team.
The event attended by senior Brunei government officials, members of the business community, the diplomatic corps and NGOs, was marked with a traditional Canadian pancake breakfast.
Canada Day falls every first of July and the informal event yesterday was marked with a reflection on the 45th year anniversary of Canada’s relationship with ASEAN as a Dialogue Partner and a celebration of Canadian literature.
Canada was one of the first countries that established diplomatic relations with the Sultanate in 1984, following Brunei’s independence and opened a High Commission in Bandar Seri Begawan in 1995.
Canada and Brunei share mutual interests in economic and education matters, as well as multilateral cooperation such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the World Trade Organization, the Commonwealth and the Aions (ASEAN) Regional Forum.