McMaster new Canadian lead of the Canada-Caribbean Institute

Image of a view in Kingston Jamaica

McMaster is building on decades of strong academic and research ties with Caribbean institutions and collaborating on economic, environmental and social issues that contribute shared prosperity in both regions. (Adobe stock photo)

McMaster is strengthening its academic and research ties with Caribbean post-secondary institutions as the lead Canadian partner in the Canada-Caribbean Institute (CCI).

Established in 2020, the CCI’s mission is to bring together scholars from across Canada and the Caribbean to collaborate on economic, environmental and social issues that contribute to the shared prosperity of both regions.

McMaster became the lead Canadian partner of the CCI in 2023.

Currently made up of 12 member institutions, the CCI supports research on a range of key policy areas including health; climate change; advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals; trade and investment; Caribbean culture and the diaspora; and government and foreign relations, among other areas.

“McMaster’s leadership role within the CCI represents an opportunity to build on our history of research and academic partnerships within the Caribbean,” says McMaster President David Farrar.

“Involvement in the CCI will expand our research activities and allow McMaster to contribute to important policy discussions impacting our two regions.”

Farrar is co-chair of the CCI with Sir Hilary Beckles, vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), the CCI’s lead Caribbean partner.

“The partnership among Canadian and Caribbean tertiary institutions, built through the CCI, embodies the spirit of Canada-Caribbean collaboration over many decades,” says Beckles.

“The extension of this collaboration into the realms of academia and research in areas of mutual interest is of critical importance as we not only address the challenges with which we are confronted, but as we continue to deepen those historic ties.”

A McMaster working group, comprising community members with connections to the Caribbean, meets regularly with Farrar to identify opportunities to support CCI initiatives, potential research collaborations with institutions in the Caribbean, and raise awareness of the CCI in the McMaster community.

McMaster’s Office of International Affairs is also supporting the CCI’s work as part of its broader plan to expand partnerships and recruitment in the Caribbean.

“The Caribbean is a region of strategic focus for McMaster as we seek to grow and enrich our global research and scholarship activities,” says Vice-Provost (International) Bonny Ibhawoh.

“Membership in the CCI will provide us with an important forum to develop new partnerships in important and diverse areas of study – I look forward to the exciting and innovative research collaborations I’m sure will emerge.”

The CCI is developing a range of programming to engage and support member institutions including panel discussions, an online discussion forum, webinars and symposia.

McMaster is scheduled to host the next CCI research symposium, which will take place in October 2024. The theme will be Climate Change, Climate Resilience and Alternative Energy Sources, and a call for papers will be put out in the spring.

McMaster’s Caribbean connections

McMaster’s links to the Caribbean go back many decades to the 1970s and ’80s when the university embarked on a robust student recruitment program in the Caribbean.

This program brought many talented students from a range of Caribbean nations to McMaster, creating a community of scholarship, and training distinguished researchers and professionals that continue to make valuable contributions to Canada, the Caribbean and the world.

For the past decade, McMaster has been home to the archives of one of Jamaica’s most beloved cultural icons, Louise Bennett Coverley, also known as “Miss Lou.” The archive has created opportunities to partner with cultural and academic institutions in Jamaica, preserve Miss Lou’s rich legacy, and build relationships with the Jamaican community in Canada and in the Caribbean.

Last year, McMaster hosted an event in celebration of the 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence.

In 2017, McMaster established a partnership with Grenada’s T.A. Marryshow Community College, the Government of Grenada, and the PETNA Foundation.

Made possible by funding from McMaster graduate Nicolas Braithwaite, this unique partnership established a series of staff and faculty exchanges that led to the development of programming to enhance teaching and learning at Marryshow College, and provide opportunities for both institutions to explore new ideas and strategies aimed at addressing shared teaching and learning challenges.

McMaster’s connections to the Caribbean have been strengthened over the years by the work of members of the African-Caribbean Faculty Association of McMaster (ACFAM).

In 2022, McMaster established the Black Faculty Hiring Initiative in partnership with ACFAM. This initiative resulted in the hiring of 18 exceptional scholars across all six McMaster faculties, a number of them with connections to the Caribbean.

As well, the university supports international experiential learning opportunities throughout the Caribbean through the McMaster African and Caribbean Leadership Exchange Program, which provides work-study placements to students from historically underrepresented communities.

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