A Message from the High Commissioner of Canada on the Occasion of Canada Day

Hello! Bonjour! Ayubowan! Vanakkam!

Canada Day is always an exciting and joyful time for Canadians. This year it takes on a very special meaning as we celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation. It will undoubtedly inspire Canadians to connect with each other and celebrate our shared values, our achievements, the majesty of our environment, and our place in the world.

Nearly 150 years ago, at the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences, the Fathers of Confederation worked on a visionary project—to create a lasting democracy—which today serves as a model internationally. The history of the land upon which our country is built, however, is much older. Canada’s First Nations have been living for thousands of years in the country that we now call Canada. Canada 150 is an occasion to celebrate Canada’s linguistic, cultural, ethnic and religious diversity, as well as our rich history and heritage. Canadians from all walks of life who have different backgrounds and life experiences have come together to make Canada—this country we call home and for which we are grateful for—prosperous, strong and free.

Canadians believe in a tolerant peaceful pluralism; in protecting human rights; in gender equality; in internationalism; in a democratic society and in helping those in need around the world. Canada is wealthy culturally, politically and economically because of our diversity. For Canada, diversity is a strength; surely one of our greatest assets and the source of our creativity. 

It has taken years of hard work for Canada to get to where it is today. Inclusion does not happen by accident, it happens because of choices that were made. Decades ago, Canada chose to embrace a policy of multiculturalism and official bilingualism. Prime Minister Trudeau chose gender parity for his Cabinet and the Government of Canada has chosen to introduce new legislation to protect transgender Canadians.

Canada and Sri Lanka have a long-standing bilateral partnership, a shared commitment to fundamental values and deep people-to-people ties. Among the shared characteristics of our two countries is bilingualism. Canada, through our bilateral development programs, is working with Sri Lanka in promoting both of this country’s official languages.

Canadian interests in Sri Lanka are driven by a commitment to the principles of freedom of expression, democracy, human rights, accountability and the rule of law. Canada welcomes the Sri Lankan government’s commitments to advance long-term peace, security and reconciliation as well as encourages Sri Lanka’s efforts at democratic, legislative and constitutional reforms. To achieve such results, constructive engagement among all stakeholders will be necessary. It is Canada’s hope that solutions be worked out to enable all Sri Lankans to live in peace and dignity, free from any discriminations, whether based on ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or language. As a close and longstanding friend, Canada remains committed to working with the Government of Sri Lanka in sharing our own experiences in creating an inclusive, peaceful and diverse country.

Among the key pillars of our bilateral relationship with Sri Lanka are youth engagement, development assistance, including Canada’s new feminist international assistance policy, and commercial linkages. Young people represent a generation of true global citizens. This has been helped by a world that is networked and connected like never before. During my time here in Sri Lanka, I have been delighted to meet with youth volunteers from Canada who have been sharing best practices while strengthening the ties between our two countries.

Canada and Sri Lanka also share the commitment to constructively engage on key issues with strategic partners, including at the UN, Commonwealth and other multilateral institutions. Additionally, Canada has, during our long years of friendship, supported the people of Sri Lanka during times of need, including our recent contribution to flood relief efforts.

Climate change is another area of interest for Canada. In November 2015, Canada committed to support climate change resilience and green economic growth in developing countries and has been working to ensure that all climate-related projects are designed and delivered through a gender equality lens. By fostering environmental stewardship, Canada’s progressive trade agenda will continue to put Canada at the forefront of clean technologies.  

Canada's prosperity is linked to economic opportunities beyond our borders and we are keen to broaden and increase our trade with Sri Lanka. It also gives us the opportunity to promote our values and principles in the context of the two-way trade we conduct. With economic opportunities often comes quality education. Canada is proud to be a centre that offers world class education. Research and development opportunities in Canada flourish and attract the world’s best and brightest, including those from Sri Lanka, to pursue their studies in Canada.

With activities designed to promote our youth, diversity and natural beauty, this Canada Day will be exceptional.

Happy Canada Day! Bonne fête du Canada!

Shelley Whiting
High Commissioner of Canada / Haute-commissaire du Canada
High Commission of Canada to Sri Lanka and Maldives / Le Haut-commissariat du Canada au Sri Lanka et aux Maldives