After several years of working in the diplomatic community, I came to appreciate the incredible demands and expectations placed on diplomats and foreign representatives who come to Canada. They are expected to settle quickly, with little or no support and take on the full demands of their jobs within a few days to a few weeks. This creates frustration, impacts performance, relationships and the budget of foreign missions.
Despite the wealth of information on the internet, there was no one-stop site, or practical information package about how to take care of those essentials we take for granted, like registering children in school, accommodations, health care, transportation, and so many other things.
In February of 2011, I approached Embassy Magazine, and put forward the idea of publishing a guide for the diplomatic community together. The idea for the publication was simple: organize information that is already out there, and put it together in an easily accessible form, for everyone. While their management could not, at that time, consider the project, I was not deterred in my conviction about the need for such a guide. Eventually, this conviction led me to approach the Ottawa Diplomatic Association (ODA), a non-profit organization.
After the presenting my idea for the guide to the Executive Committee in 2011, the ODA whole-heartedly welcomed the project accepting to put its name behind it while I got to work to make it a reality. This was all I needed to embark on authoring and creating an easy to use guide for the diplomatic community in Ottawa.
Pulling together the information for the original 2011 guide was only possible thanks to the generosity of members of the foreign service and the government authorities who supported my efforts. After hours of interviewing, organizing teams of volunteers, selling advertising space, editing, designing and printing, the first distribution of the publication "Welcome to Canada, A guide for New Foreign Missions’ Staff" was made in 2011. The project was a success and enthusiastically welcomed by the diplomatic community of Ottawa!
I am forever grateful to His Excellency Dr. Nevers Mumba, the High Commissioner of Zambia (and the then President of the ODA’s Executive Committee in 2011), for his support and acknowledgement of the effort and commitment that went into the prototype guide. I am also proud of how the publication of "Welcome to Canada" in 2011 helped support the ODA’s mandate, contributing among other things to the organization’s financing needs that year.
As is so often the case, however, where we start is not where we end up and when one door closes, another door opens. In 2012, the new Executive Committee of the ODA took new decisions and I decided to start a new project. My vision was for an expanded Canada-wide guide and I found new partners: the Provincial and Federal Protocol Offices, Consular Corps Association of Toronto, Protocol Office of Ville de Montreal, and the UN Local Expatriate Spouses Association (LESA,) Montreal Chapter. With their support, Embassy Services was able to launch "Canada for the Diplomatic Community, A Guide for Foreign Representatives and Their Families" in 2013. The guide featured new design, new themes, enriched content and up-to-date information for four major Canadian cities (Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver).
Supported by satisfied and loyal advertisers who had worked with me before, the 2013 edition of "Canada for the Diplomatic Community" was launched in Ottawa. The event was co-hosted by the Embassy of the Slovak Republic with seven other participating embassies and high commissions and welcomed over 200 guests who came out to celebrate with us.
On behalf of Embassy Services, I want to thank all of you who have told me that "Canada for the Diplomatic Community" is recommended as a “must read” guide for new comers to Canada under new postings. This is my inspiration to keep publishing a resource that helps families and new settlers feel welcomed, empowered to meet their goals and to be partners in uniting our great, Canadian society with the international community.
Publisher of Canada for the Diplomatic Community
Founder of Embassy Services and OS3 Consulting