GBC hosts Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley for a town hall event

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Justin Trudeau and Mia Mottley

George Brown College (GBC) hosted the leaders of Canada and Barbados, among other dignitaries and guests, for a town hall event exploring Canadian-Caribbean relations and how to build a healthier and more prosperous world. The significant economic, environmental, social and cultural ties make dialogue between Canada and the Caribbean region a priority for exploring opportunities and solutions for sustainable development. 

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, and Her Excellency Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, sat down together at the Daphne Cockwell Centre for Health Sciences at Waterfront Campus on October 19 and took questions from GBC students on climate change, leadership, and the challenging economic circumstances for post-secondary students.  

Prime Ministers Trudeau and Mottley are co-chairs of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Advocates group, and the leaders outlined how Canada can support resiliency in the Caribbean—a region particularly vulnerable to the worsening effects of the climate crisis.  

“This is a time of huge pivot and challenge in the world,” Prime Minister Trudeau said.  

“We’re all in this together, and we all have to figure out the best path forward by anchoring ourselves in our values, in the facts, and a path forward that is going to be best for the largest number of people while protecting the rights and wellbeing of 100 per cent of the people.” 

Watch the town hall event at George Brown College (CPAC). 

The power of GBC's partnerships in the Caribbean 

Dr. Gervan Fearon standing next to federal minister Marci Ien

GBC President Dr. Gervan Fearon welcomed guests, including the Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, who introduced the Prime Ministers. Dr. Fearon highlighted the college's strong and longstanding ties in the Caribbean with partners in Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, St. Lucia, and Jamaica—mutually beneficial connections with educational and economic benefits for all parties.  

"These partnerships enrich our students' learning experiences, research and innovation and contribute to community-building and business innovation," he said. "Our commitment to these partnerships aligns directly with CARICOM's mission to strengthen Canada-Caribbean relations and development." 

In 2019, Dr. Fearon, along with Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, established the Canada-Caribbean Institute to further strengthen the economic and cultural relationship between the two regions. 

"Tonight's town hall reflects the spirit of strong partnership and promising possibility," Dr. Fearon said. 

PM Mottley thanked GBC for its work in Barbados, which she said has been "instrumental" in enabling students there to prepare for futures in the global workforce, including in cybersecurity.  

"Our tagline at home is Global Citizens, Bajan Roots," Mottley said. "We recognize that there are opportunities and a mismatch in jobs globally. We need to get as many people as possible capable of getting those jobs, which means preparing them through education. So, thank you (George Brown College)." 

PM Trudeau met with other leaders from several countries across the Caribbean region earlier in the week, including Guyanese President Mohamed Irfaan Ali and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, and participated in the Canada-CARICOM Summit. CARICOM (Caribbean Community) is a political and economic union of 20 countries. 

Canadian and Barbadian PMs address many issues facing young people right now 

PM Trudeau taking a picture with GBC students

PM Trudeau addressed the many issues facing young people, highlighting climate change, the pandemic, global conflicts, inflation and housing affordability. He thanked GBC students for participating in the event and engaging in conversation around the sustainable development goals and “the world we're trying to build." 

"We are in a time of change where the decisions we take collectively, that you take as citizens and engaged members of communities, will shape the future we're part of," PM Trudeau said. "This is a focal point in the world — a moment of significant consequence." 

PM Mottley highlighted the importance of engaged citizens who will "stand up and do the day-to-day lifting" on important issues. 

"You have to be the conduit now to be able to explain why it matters that there should be zero hunger in this world with so much food. Why it matters that we should work to avoid conflict and build a peace that will come, but the question is when and at what cost, and why we should learn from the past and do better," Mottley said. 

GBC's partnerships and Projects in the Caribbean 

GBC continues to enjoy partnerships across the Caribbean, with some collaborations stretching back decades.  

Global Tourism Resilience & Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC)

In March 2022, George Brown College became the first Canadian partner to join the GTRCMC international tourism think tank based at the University of the West Indies aimed at helping the sector adapt to disruptors like pandemics and climate change.  

New opportunities in Barbados 

In November 2020, George Brown entered into an agreement with Erdiston Teachers' Training College in Barbados to open new opportunities for collaboration with the Centre for Business and School of Early Childhood that could include study abroad, applied research and business analytics data activities. 

The Jamaica Project — nearly 30 years of partnership in early childhood education 

One of George Brown's longest-running efforts in the Caribbean exists at the School of Early Childhood. It started with a GBC early childhood education work abroad experience nearly three decades ago. It grew to include the Jamaican Ministry of Education, PACE Canada, the University of the West Indies and Shortwood Teachers College. 

School of Social and Community Services' work in Jamaica

Like the School of Early Childhood, the School of Social and Community Services has longstanding experience in Jamaica, providing work-integrated learning opportunities for students with organizations across the country. For nearly 20 years, the school collaborated with the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning to provide six-week practicums for George Brown students. In 2020, the school partnered with the non-profit organization, Women's Resource and Outreach Centre Ltd. (WROC) to provide work placement opportunities for George Brown students in the community and social service delivery.