Visit to the Historic Barbados Garrison Site
Saint Michael, Barbados, Monday, April 30, 2012
I am so pleased to be here in Barbados and to discover the rich history that our two countries share.
I am especially delighted to visit St Ann’s Fort, located in the Garrison—a UNESCO Historic site and a place of incredible magnitude. Indeed, being here reminds me of another site in Canada that has a similarly rich history.
The Official Residence of the Governor General at the Citadelle of Québec is an active military base steeped in the more-than-400-year history of the City of Québec. Like this site, it is a symbol of strength and of unity.
Not coincidentally, these two words—strength and unity—describe the friendship between Canada and Barbados.
In places like these, we find ourselves cast backwards in time, to a place where life was much different, technologically, socially and even politically. Today, this remains an active military base, home to a state of the art IT training facility, which Canada was proud to support. Yet two things have stood the test of time between Canada and Barbados.
First is our common head of State. The ongoing Diamond Jubilee celebration this year for Her Majesty The Queen has underscored our close relationship within the Commonwealth.
Second is the enduring friendship between Canada and Barbados. I used the words strength and unity to describe two landmarks. Those words certainly apply to the relations throughout our histories as well.
In fact, today the people of our two nations enjoy positive relations in so many respects. But what strikes me most is how we enjoy a true learning exchange.
Barbadian students and professors collaborate with Canadian institutions through scholarships and exchange programs, and Canadian students and researchers come to Barbados for an experience unlike any in Canada.
But that is not the extent of our learning relationship.
Being here to take in the history and the beauty of your nation, I can see why Canadian soldiers have been active participants in military activities here and why we continue to this day to learn from each other.
It was here that Major-General Sir Isaac Brock served for years before travelling to Canada. Who knows what he learned on these shores that allowed Canada to achieve victory 200 years ago in the War of 1812?
What we do know is that the close relationship continued. Barbadians have served alongside Canadians on many occasions, and Canada is proud to work with the Barbados Defence Force in a variety of ways, including sponsoring a vast array of training courses.
This time last year, the Governor General’s Foot Guards Royal Canadian Cadets came to Barbados to meet with other cadets and to learn. No doubt they found the experience enlightening, informative and enjoyable.
In June, members of the Canadian Forces will be in Barbados to participate in Tradewinds, the annual military training exercise. These are but two of the many examples of our enduring co-operation.
It is the exchange of learning that I find most impressive. And in this way, we are practising what I like to call the diplomacy of knowledge, that is, the sharing that happens between people and across borders and disciplines.
When countries engage in the diplomacy of knowledge, people are the true winners. We see this quite clearly in our military liaisons.
My time in your country has allowed me the opportunity to see the fortitude and dedication of your people. I hope that we continue to work closely together in all aspects to build a smarter, more caring world.