Grenada ramps up its “Diaspora Outreach” programme

By Lincoln DePradine

The Grenada government, in an outreach phase leading up to a parliamentary-approved formal Diaspora policy, is soon to send a delegation to Toronto for talks with nationals in the Canadian city.

Keith Mitchell and Derrick James, Grenada’s Consul General in Toronto

Representatives of the Office of Diaspora Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Grenadian capital, St George’s, already have visited London, England, and the US capital city, Washington.

“We have started this process and we’re going to conclude it by the end of the year,’’ said Derrick James, Grenada’s consul General in Toronto.

James, who also is Ambassador for Diaspora Affair, said the date of delegation’s visit to Toronto is yet to be finalized.

However, he said when it is held, “we expect to sensitize people of the new Diaspora policy of the government, for them to have input on the policy and make recommendations, so that in the final document, their input will be taken into consideration.

The latest Diaspora outreach is part of an initiative, sponsored by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) of the United Nations, aimed at formalizing and strengthening Grenada’s ties with nationals living in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other parts of the Diaspora.

The expected outcome of the plan and the proposed policy is to facilitate what’s being described as a “mutually beneficial relationship’’ between Grenada and its Diaspora, as part of the country’s strategic development focus.

“Over the years, Grenadians in the Diaspora always contributed to the development of Grenada, without a formal structure to do that,’’ James said. “At the ends of this outreach initiative, we want to have a formal structure in place for the Diaspora.’’

A major focus of the current initiative is an online survey, called “Mapping Grenada’s Diaspora’’, which invites participants from Grenadian nationals in Canada and elsewhere in the world.

The survey is designed to document available skills and resources in the Diaspora, as well as to determine interest and plans to support the development of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

“This survey is critical for the future development of our country,’’ said James. “It’s critical for us to know what skills we have among us and that people can contribute to the development of Grenada.’’

He said, “when we know where our Grenadians are and we know the skills that are available, if Grenada needs certain skills set, we are going to look towards Grenadians in the Diaspora to fill these jobs.’’

James gave a recent example of the ministry of health searching for an administrator for the main General Hospital and being able to find a suitably qualified candidate, Grenadian Dr Carol McIntosh, who was living abroad.

Like other Caribbean nationals overseas, Grenadians make regular remittances to family and friends at home in the region.

One frequent complaint, however, is the high cost of making remittances.

James said in an effort to strengthen bonds between Grenadians in the Diaspora and those living at home, discussions have begun with the banking sector in Grenada “in supporting us in finding a solution to remittance issue’’.