Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 17, 2019 (SKNIS): St. Kitts and Nevis’ High Commissioner to Canada (based in Ottawa), Her Excellency Sherry Tross, said that the relationship between St. Kitts and Nevis and Canada has been a mutually beneficial one which dates back to the 1600s, and extends much further than visa free access. However, she said that restoring the visa free access to Canada for Kittitians and Nevisians is a work in progress.
At a press conference with the diplomatic and consular corps accredited to St. Kitts and Nevis on the 8th of April at the St. Kitts Marriott resort as part of Diplomatic Week 2019 (April 7-12) under the theme “Securing a Resilient Future through Strategic Diplomacy and Effective Dialogue”, Her Excellency Tross expressed that her team is working tirelessly through diplomacy to rectify the visa situation.
“Canada has had such a long standing relationship with the Caribbean and with St. Kitts and Nevis, which goes back to the 17th century. This was a trading relationship where Canada provided us with cod fish and we sent back rum and molasses. And so, we’re saying we’ve had this century long relationship; at this point in time we want to ensure that the relationship is strengthened, it continues to grow, that Canada remains open for people to people exchange,” said High Commissioner Tross.
On November 22, 2014, St. Kitts and Nevis lost its visa free access to Canada. However, Kittitians and Nevisians are still able to attain the visa through one of multiple programmes, such as multiple entry visa.
“Once a policy decision has been made it is tough to undo it,” said Her Excellency Tross.
She, however, believes that they have had some impact with regards to the discussions in Canada.
“We have had I believe some impact in terms of the discussions that we’ve been having in Ottawa. We have adopted an all of government approach when it comes to this.”
To explain this all of government approach, Her Excellency Tross gave an example where she encouraged ministers of government of the Federation who happen to travel to Canada at any given time, to raise this issue with their counterparts in Canada.
“It is all of government here in St. Kitts and Nevis in the sense that whenever a minister is on the ground in Canada, we want them to raise this issue with their counterparts in Ottawa,” she said.
“And we in Ottawa are meeting with people in the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship in Canada on a regular basis but not just the ministry, specifically looking at this issue,” Her Excellency Tross said.
“We’re also in consultation and conversation with members of parliament, building allies throughout the political network, in the private sector, with the diaspora, so we’re bringing lots of different elements to play because we believe that this is important,” High Commissioner Tross said.