The Manitoba leg of the National Conversation on Asia (NCA) series was hosted and organized by the University of Manitoba (UM) in cooperation with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF). In the morning of 23rd of January 2014, President and Vice-Chancellor David Barnard (UM) and Mr. Yuen Pau Woo (APF CEO and President) hosted the Roundtable Discussion Manitoba and Asia: The Way Forward.
The event gathered senior officials from Manitoba government and the community: Ministry of Education and Advanced Learning; Economic Development Winnipeg Inc.; Manitoba Trade and Investment; The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce; World Trade Centre Winnipeg; Manitoba Immigration and Multiculturalism; Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development; Chinese Cultural Centre and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Manitoba. They were joined by senior officials and fellows from APF: David Mulroney (Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto), Kasi Rao (VP and Director, Toronto Office) and Douglas Goold (Director, National Conversation on Asia and Senior Editor).
Ron Hoffmann (UM alumna and Director General of Strategic Policy, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, DFATD) joined the Roundtable as one of the commentators and echoed Asia’s growing importance for Canada and the Federal government. Increasing Canada’s economic and political engagement in Asia is one of DFATD’s top 5 priorities for 2013-2014. Asia presents opportunities for diversifying Manitoba’s export and import markets. The roundtable participants recognized the need for cross cultural understanding to facilitate engagement and business partnerships with the region.
More than 70 faculty members, students and staff attended the afternoon session themed The Rise of Asia: Are We Ready? David Mulroney shared the highlights of Canada’s Asia Challenge: Creating Competence for the Next Generation of Canadians (a Report of the Asia Competence Task Force, which he co-chairs with Janet De Silva). Representatives of UM Students’ Union (UMSU), Students Without Borders Vietnam (SWB/ICS), Asper School of Business/Association of Chinese Professors in Manitoba (ACPMB) and Asian Studies Centre (UM Faculty of Arts) provided feedback to the report. Thao Lam, UMSU Vice President, acknowledged UM’s efforts at celebrating cultural diversity and shared that a large part of developing cultural understanding is the result of personal interaction. “The ability to immerse oneself in a culture is the best way to learn,” said Caitlin Bailey (SWB/ICS), who encouraged her fellow students to venture into international opportunities, to broaden their horizons, develop intercultural skills and practice what they’ve learned at UM. Listen to the audio recording here.