BDA Ottawa Executive Council Meetings
Over the course of 4 days, the Black Diplomats Academy's Executive Council conducted in person meetings in Ottawa featuring several department heads of the federal government. These in person consultations highlighted the progress of the Academy, challenges the program continues to face and opportunities to advance the mission.
The objective for these meetings was to discuss four key areas that the Academy (BDA) has prioritized for the full inclusion, participation and representation of Black young leaders in decision-making activities for Economic, Legislative, Social and Environmental Justice. The four issue areas are tied directly to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include:
Education - SDG 4
United Nations Permanent Forum for People of African Descent - SDG 10, 11, 16 & 17
On Wednesday (April 20th) the Executive Council met with Director General Tarik Khan from Global Affairs Canada. In this meeting, the conversation focused on the importance of ongoing access to one to one mentors and quality internship opportunities for fellows of the program. Further discussions explored the natural progression of the Academy to pursue an academic institutional partnership that would result in the enrichment of the curriculum as well as the exposure of the fellows to various exchange opportunities.
The Council emphasized that accredited status was a major barrier to participation that the Academy is facing to attend international fora such as the World Economic Forum, Conference of the Parties (COP) and other high-level multilateral meetings.
Accreditation allows attendees to directly engage with policymakers during main event activities, acquire consultative status for planning purposes and provide recommendations on substantive policy actions.
April 21st saw the Council meeting with Associate Deputy Minister Mala Khanna from Heritage Canada. As a mentor in the 2021 cohort of the program, the ADM expressed pride in the progress of the Academy after just one year of program operation. The Council expressed the significance of sustainable mentoring relationships that also create pathways for internships in various departments of the federal public service.
As economic justice continues to be a key challenge for the Academy, emphasis was also placed on establishing financial support from government sourced funders to enable the Academy to successfully deliver on all program mandates on behalf of Black young people.
On Friday (April 22nd) the Executive Council met with retired Ambassador Sabine Nolke - Canada’s Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Former Ambassador Nolke has been instrumental in creating access for Academy fellows to learn about diplomatic assignments and some of the challenges that could be experienced while on assignment such as cyber threats and other security concerns.
Council representatives had the opportunity to have a candid discussion with the former Ambassador on how diplomatic postings come with unintended consequences such as unemployment or underemployment for a spouse or significant other.
The Council wrapped up an eventful week of meetings by sitting down with Secretary General Roda Muse, Director of Secretariat David Schimpky and Program Officer Mohammad Mousa from the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
As a partner organization to the Academy, CCUNESCO has financially supported the development of the Academy as well as by delivering learning labs during each of the two years since the Academy has been established. CCUNESCO has shared the significant work that the Academy is doing to advance knowledge mobilization on the subject of the United Nations declared Decade for People of African Descent and the newly adopted Permanent Forum for People of African Descent.
CCUNESCO has also contributed expertise during the inaugural Black Diplomacy Global Summit in 2021. The Academy is looking forward to CCUNESCO’s continued participation in this year’s upcoming Summit.
With a successful first week of in person engagement, the Executive Council is poised to continue its consultations with decision-makers in the diplomacy space including Canada’s Ambassador to Costa Rica, one of the Member States selected to represent the Latin America and Caribbean region of the Permanent Forum for People of African Descent. In the coming weeks, Council members will also meet with Canada’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York to discuss the Permanent Forum and the Academy’s position to amplify Black youth voices as emerging decision-makers.
Featured: Sabine Nolke (Retired Canadian Diplomat), Keshana King, Rochelle Burke, and David Nyarko
Featured: Danisha Decius, David Schimpky (Director of Secretariat, CCUNESCO), Candies Kotchapaw, Keshana King, Mohammad Mousa (Program Officer, Social and Human Sciences and Youth)
Featured: Danisha Decius, Roda Musa (Secretary-General of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO)
Featured: Candies Kotchapaw and Danisha Decius
Featured: Rochelle Burke, Candies Kotchapaw, Tarik Khan (Director General, Pan African Affairs) and Rebecca Deatcher