|Sticking around: Ambassador David Devine (right) and Secretary General of the Francophonie Abdou Diouf (middle) during the Francophonie Festival at the Ha Noi University in March. — Photo courtesy of Canadian Embassy
In honour of Canada's National Day celebrated on July 1, Ambassador David Devine spoke to Viet Nam News about the significance of the occasion and the growing relationship between the two countries.
On Canada Day, fami-lies from across Canada will gather for backyard barbeques, in one of Canada's famous national parks, or join thousands of people on Parliament Hill at official Canada Day Celebrations to show our pride in our country and all of its accomplishments.
As Canada–Viet Nam relations continue to strengthen in so many important areas, we in Viet Nam also have a lot to celebrate on this special day.
Last year, Canada and Viet Nam celebrated 40 years of friendship. On the cultural side, we hosted memorable concerts by renowned Canadian pianist Alain Lefevre in Ha Noi and HCM City; launched the Accessible Arctic photo exhibition, showcasing the Arctic and Aboriginal peoples of Canada; and organised a visit by world-class Canadian director Robert Lepage who had incorporated Vietnamese traditional water puppet techniques into his famous opera show The Nightingale and Other Short Stories.
Each of these events fostered unique cultural exchanges and showcased the excellence of Canadian art and artists to the Vietnamese public.
We also celebrated this anniversary with important visits. Viet Nam welcomed Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. In December, Canada welcomed Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh to Ottawa and Toronto. These visits were opportunities to highlight our growing political and economic ties as well as explore new initiatives to enhance our bilateral relationship. With trade volume surpassing US$2.5 billion last year, we have lots to celebrate, though we are also reminded of how much potential remains.
This year is already off to a great start. Several senior officials from Canada have already visited Viet Nam to discuss cooperation in various fields including development assistance. We continue to work with Viet Nam to advance priority areas for both of our countries ranging from trade and investment to promoting human rights. The New Year kicked off with the first ever friendship ice hockey game in January between visiting Canadian Members of Parliament and a team of Vietnamese and other nationals at Royal City ice skating ring in Ha Noi.
I was honoured to drop the puck to start the game and was pleased to see Canada's national sport played in this tropical city of Ha Noi.
In February and March, for International Women's Day, we screened the beautiful film Water by Canadian Deepa Mehta whose outstanding work, which focuses on women's rights and human dignity, was recognised last May when she was awarded the Order of Canada.
Education remains a priority for Canada in general and for Canada in Viet Nam in particular. Canada's new International Education Strategy announced in February lists Viet Nam as one of the country's focus markets. We are working to make sure that accessibility to quality education in Canada will be granted to more and more Vietnamese students.
In October, we will host the 6th Annual Canada Education Week in Ha Noi and HCM City, including recruitment fairs, visa seminars and networking events. About 70 education institutions from Canada will be in place to answer questions from all students and parents who are interested in receiving one of the best educations in the world.
I also want to note a new channel for people to people exchanges, our Embassy's Facebook. After less than two years on Facebook, we have close to 35,000 fans on our three Facebook pages (in Vietnamese, English, and French). The Vietnamese Facebook page in particular, with close to 30,000 fans, is a direct way to communicate with Vietnamese, especially young people, to inform them of what we are doing in Viet Nam and to get them engaged. We are also able to share with our fans stories of the diversity, tolerance and innovation that are hallmarks of Canada.
As Canadians here in Viet Nam, we have much to celebrate and be proud of as Canadians and Vietnamese continue to work hard together for a better future for both our countries. Bonne Fete du Canada a tous!
If you want to learn more about what Canada is doing in Viet Nam, follow us on Facebook (Facebook.com/CanadaVietnam or Facebook.com/CanadainVietnam). — VNS