By Ryan Andrew Mitchell : In early October, The Honorable Sheila Sealy Monteith, High Commissioner of Canada to Jamaica made her first visit to the Canadian west coast since she entered her new position.
She received a warm welcome at a reception in Burnaby hosted by former radio personality Wayne Vernon. During the reception, Sandra Scott Philips was recognized for her work as President of the Jamaican Canadian Cultural Association of British Columbia and Wilma King Bennett was introduced as The Honorary Consul for Vancouver.
In February 2010, Monteith became High Commissioner of Canada to Jamaica. Her focus is on representing Canadians with strong family ties to Jamaica and continuing to build on the relationship between Canada and Jamaica, strengthening the ties. She posted her reaction on receiving the high position on the website jhcottawa.ca:
“I am honored to be able to serve our country Jamaica as its current High Commissioner to Canada. Our relations with our host country are long, deep and wide, accomplished in large measure by your own presence and activities.”
The High Commissioner’s speech at the event illustrated the growth of Jamaican industries, “We are extraordinarily pleased with the growth of the tourism market for Canada in Jamaica. It is the second largest, in fact to the United States. We encourage you to visit our homeland and to get your friends to do so.” She admits she likes it when the weather in Canada gets testy as it forces many to return to Jamaica for the winter.
She went on to speak about other industries in Jamaica, “In addition to tourism, we are open to business in manufacturing, agribusinesses information and communication technology, creative industries, mining and professional services. (These are) Some of the same areas for which British Columbia is open for business; but we are not competing.” She complimented Jamaica on its’ new port, she said it was ‘world class’ and ‘delivered high quality product.’
The Commissioner explained various Jamaican policies that have placed the country on the world stage for successful economic stories. She also mentioned Jamaica’s lowered crime rate, which has dropped exponentially in the past decade.
Monteith describes herself as someone who is just a thread in pulling Canada and Jamaica closer together, and she encourages British Columbians to celebrate Jamaica’s 50th year of independence in 2012.
Monteith described Victoria as a beautiful location and was impressed with the amount of unity in the Vancouver area despite the diversity of culture and viewpoints. She is planning on visiting Vancouver many more times in the future, as she said is amazed by the people and the scenery of the west coast.
Previously, Sheila Sealy Monteith has held the position of Jamaica Ministry Counselor, Jamaica Ambassador Designate to Mexico and others including roles in the United Nations. She is fluent in English, Spanish and French, being a Spanish teacher before officially entering the government office.