St. Patrick's Day message from the Consul General
News15 March 2021
St. Patrick's Day message from the Consul General
A chairde gael,
I want to start by wishing all of you, on behalf of Jennifer, Bláithín, Kamilla and I in the Consulate, all the very best for St. Patrick’s Day 2021.
It is now a whole year since the 2020 St. Patrick’s Day plans around the world and here in British Columbia unfortunately had to be cancelled at the last minute. While we cannot celebrate in person once again, the Consulate has worked closely to support CelticFest Vancouver to help them present some great virtual St. Patrick’s Day events. I hope you have all been enjoying the programme so far and there are some great events still to come this week.
I know that all of us in the Consulate have been greatly impressed and humbled by how the Irish community in BC has come together during the pandemic to support each other and to make the difficult transition from very enjoyable in-person events to the less enjoyable but still welcome virtual events.
The past pandemic year has seen many helpful virtual initiatives but I want to thank in particular the Irish Covid-19 Support Group who did an outstanding job in creating a space for the Irish community to come together throughout the worst of the pandemic to connect, share information and support each other. Even now they are continuing this good work as the group behind the wonderful “Irish in BC” newsletter and social media platforms.
I would also like to highlight the 2021 St. Brigid’s Festival Vancouver which took place in the first week of February this year. Organised by Maura de Freitas and her committee, with funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Emigrant Support Programme, we saw eight events over eight days that celebrated the achievements and creativity of Irish women. The Festival was an overwhelming success and if you missed it, you can watch all of the events back on YouTube, including the Consulate’s Q&A with signatory to the Good Friday Agreement, Monica McWilliams.
There were many other good initiatives including the re-launch of the Vancouver Chapter of the Ireland-Canada Chamber of Commerce, and the promotion of well-being and mental health by sporting organisations such as the GAA and the Vancouver Irish Running Crew.
In 2020 the Consulate facilitated over $100,000 CAD of funding in support of Irish community organisations. Priority was given to welfare initiatives that promoted mental health and well-being. Unfortunately, there is ongoing and growing concern for those among us feeling isolated and depressed. The Consulate will continue to support services and projects that aim to address these issues.
The Consulate continues to work on trade and economic promotion between Ireland and British Columbia. In addition to our monthly Business Breakfast, the Consulate works closely with Ireland’s state agencies to promote Ireland as a business partner and tourism destination. Our trade focus is now on the areas of mining and exploration, education and research, and cleantech including energy and the circular economy. We recently hosted two successful mining webinars, and we facilitated this week’s Surrey Board of Trade webinar in partnership with the Ireland Canada Business association. We are also expecting an Education Officer to be placed in Vancouver in the coming months.
The Irish Consulate has played a leading role as part of an EU Consulate Trade Working Group in Vancouver to help raise awareness of the greater potential of the EU Single Market as a trading partner for BC. The virtual world has facilitated stronger links with the Embassy in Ottawa, the state agencies in Toronto and with key partners such as the Canadian Embassy in Dublin. This has allowed for an even greater synergy and more collaborative approach to supporting economic recovery.
We are looking forward to the year ahead, supporting the Irish community in your endeavours and working closely with our Emigrant Support Programme partners. We will continue our monthly Business Breakfast events which are open to everyone to attend. Our next speaker will be Pearse Walsh from Kelowna and we are hoping to have guest speakers from Prince George and Victoria in the coming months. We are also hoping to reopen our custom designed event space at the Consulate later in the year for in-person and “blended” events; when the time is right and the BC Government guidelines allow.
As always, if anyone has an idea for a project or initiative that will provide a service or space for the Irish community in British Columbia please reach out to us and we will be happy to discuss. For example, we are currently looking to hear from Irish members of the LGBTQAI2S+ community in BC to form a new Irish community group. If you think this is of interest to you, please get in touch at email@example.com.
As for our consular operations, please be aware that the Consulate is open and working at full capacity. Over the last year we moved into a new office and we are open to the public to provide consular services from 10am to 1pm Monday to Friday. And as always, you can feel free to email or call us with any general queries including travel advice. You can visit our website for more details.
And while we still cannot be together in person this year, there is light at the end of the tunnel and we are hopeful that next year we will be celebrating together side by side.
As Dr Bonnie Henry urges please do “Be Kind, Be Safe and Be Calm” and stay in contacts with the folks back home!
Beannachtí Lá Féile Pariag daoibh go léir
Consul General of Ireland, Vancouver