Townhall Meeting with New Ghanaian High Commisioner to Canada
“I am here to solve our problems. Let me know what problems you face and we will discuss them. Those that I am unable to solve, I will refer them to the appropriate institutions.” These were some of pieces of advice His Excellency, Mr. Samuel Valis-Akyianu, Ghana’s High Commissioner to Canada gave at a Town Hall meeting in Burnaby, a city in the Vancouver Metropolitan Area in the Province of British Columbia on July 7, 2013.
In a short address, spiced with good-natured humour, His Excellency Mr. Valis-Akyianu told the packed hall that he was in Canada to serve Ghanaians, and that they should not hesitate to approach him when in need of help, adding. “I am your servant; I am here to serve you.”
Mr. Valis-Akyainu called on Ghanaians in Canada to “come home” to help develop the country. He also called for unity in the Ghanaian community. He urged Ghanaians to also promote unity in Ghana, because unity was an essential ingredient in national development.
Accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Love Valis Akyianu and Mr. Kwasi Obeng-Koranteng, minister at the Ghana High Commission in Ottawa, the High Commissioner led a lively Q&A (Questions and Answers) session during which a wide range of issues were discussed, including dual citizenship, doing business in Ghana, health care, duties on personal effects, as well as on goods meant for donation to NGOs.
On the issue of dual citizenship, Mr. Obeng Koranteng said that the Constitutional Review Commission has recommended that all bona fide Ghanaians must be eligible to apply for dual citizenship. He said a government White Paper on the recommendation has been submitted to parliament. He, however, cautioned Ghanaians in the Diaspora not to expect anything soon, as it would take some time before parliament passed it (the recommendation) into law.
Prior to the Town Hall meeting, His Excellency Valis-Akyianu had held discussions in Vancouver with representatives of Canadian businesses operating Ghana. Led by Ghana’s Honourary Consul General in British Columbia, Mr. George Addei -Piprah, the His Commissioner also toured several important places, including the Provincial capital, Victoria.
Oil and Gas
The High Commissioner and his entourage crowned their tours with a visit to Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU), where he held discussions on possibilities of collaboration with Ghanaian institutions of higher learning, particularly in the area of oil and gas.
In his welcome remarks, Dr. Gordon Lee, Provost and Vice-President, Academic, said KPU has had a long-standing relationship with Ghana and assured the High Commissioner that his institution would continue that relationship. He noted that through two faculty members—Dr. Kwawu Agbemenu and Dr. Charles Quist-Adade, KPU has collaborated with the Ghana-Canadian Association of BC (GCABC) and Ghanaian institutions of higher learning during the past few years.
Sandra Schinnerl, Director of the Office of International Students and Scholars, who participated in the meeting with the High Commissioner, expressed interest in recruiting Ghanaian students to study at KPU. Future student and faculty exchanges between KPU and Ghanaians institutions of higher learning were also discussed.
History of Collaboration
In 2007, KPU and the GCABC jointly hosted the “Ghana at 50” Symposium to mark the country’s 50th Independence Anniversary. In the Summer of 2010, KPU proudly organized the Kwame Nkrumah International Conference to commemorate the centenary birthday anniversary Ghana’s pioneer president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
In 2008, Dr. Quist-Adade and Dr. Kwawu Agbemenu, retired KPU Geography professor, with the assistance of the local Delta-based NGO, Afretech collected and sent over 500 computers and accessories, several hundreds of mathematics, science, reference, accounting books and laboratory science equipment to 15 schools, libraries and a hospital to several schools in the Greater Accra, Volta and Eastern regions. This was repeated in 2011 and 2012.
In the summer of 2012, KPU and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) jointly organized the 2nd Biennial Kwame Nkrumah International Conference (KNIC) in Kumasi, Ghana. Currently, KPU and KNUST are planning the 3rd Kwame Nkrumah International Conference to be held at Kwantlen in the summer of 2014.
The Sociology Department under the aegis of Dr. Charles Quist-Adade has organized two summer field schools in Ghana in 2011 and 2012. The next one is slated for 2014.
Also, since 2009, Dr. Quist-Adade has taught two partially online courses (Sociology of Global Inequalities and Global Social Justice) which has linked his Canadian students with their Ghanaian peers at the University of Ghana, Ghana Institute of Journalism, and KNUST.
Students in his classes created and donated solar lanterns to schools in Ghana as part of his Ghana Field School. Last year, 10 of the lanterns were donated to students at Eguafo Secondary School in the Central Region and five were donated to their counterparts at Teawiah District Assembly Primary School. Fifteen more of the lanterns are ready to be donated during the next field school in the Summer of 2014.
In addition, students in Dr. Quist-Adade classes have raised over $7,000 during the past three years, which were donated to deprived students in several schools in rural Ghana as scholarships, and to provide school supplies, including computers, notebooks, pens and pencils, backpacks, soccer balls, jerseys, etc.
The High Commissioner ended his visit with worships at the Church of Pentecost and the Calvary Worship Centre in New Westminster and Surrey, respectively on Sunday, July 7, 2013.
“This was a very enlightening meeting. I was impressed by His Excellency’s humility and especially his leadership by example by paying his membership dues. Mr. Obeng-Koranteng was masterful in his grasp of the issues raised and answers to the questions posed” observed Mrs. Gifty Frimpong, Vice-President of the GCABC.