The relationship between the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (O.E.C.S) and Canada continues to be a fruitful partnership, due in major part to the Seasonal Agriculture Workers Program. Head of the Eastern Caribbean Liaison Services (ECLS) in Canada, Olaf Fontenelle, made this observation as he delivered greetings to patrons of the O.E.C.S Nationals Council Canada’s celebration of the 38th Anniversary of the O.E.C.S.
The O.E.C.S Nationals Council Canada hosted a special church service and reception to mark the Anniversary of the union at the Asbury and West United Church. The O.E.C.S union, which now includes Guadeloupe and Martinique as Associate members, was first formed by the Treaty of Basseterre on the 18th June, 1981. The union was formed to accomplish several goals for its signatories: To promote co-operation among the member states and to defend their sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence; to assist members in the realisation of their obligations and responsibilities to the international community; to harmonise foreign policy and to promote economic integration, amongst other objectives.
Chief Liaison officer of ECLS Fontenelle, spoke on behalf of the O.E.C.S Commission, highlighting the hundreds of O.E.C.S nationals working in Canada, “Their continued participation in this program (SAWP), to support the well-being of their families, is testimony to the relevance and unifying strength of the O.E.C.S-38 years ago.” The SAWP was established in 1966 and was designed to address short-term labour shortages in the Canadian market. The OECS became an active participant in 1976, as a means to reduce unemployment in the region. In the intervening period thousands of workers have travelled to Canada under the program.
Fontenelle also commended the OECS Nationals Council for its dedicated and faithful observance of the regional body’s anniversary over the years. This year, the Council partnered with the Canadian Multicultural Inventors Museum to showcase the achievements of O.E.C.S nationals in the Caribbean and internationally.
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