Skip to main content
Download the PDF Version

Canada cannot be viewed on a small screen, bounded by her geographical limits. Her life is world-wide. In an age when distances are measured in terms of jet plane time, India is in Canada’s backyard.

It is natural and beneficial to look with indulgent eyes on one’s native land, but love of one’s land, or province, or city, or home no more implies despising other places than love of one’s mother implies despising other mothers. Canada has been fortunate in that most of her leaders and most of her people know that they are members of a parish of planetary size, and that the public affairs of the twentieth century are world affairs.

All nations are faced with adjusting to new conditions, but Canada has features and attributes which, if used sensibly, put her well in the lead of building a good world. She stands between the big and the small powers, with light manpower but great economic weight. Canada is part of the British Commonwealth of Nations and a member of the United Nations, and she has a special relationship with the United States of America, with whom she shares the bulk of the North American continent.

Some people deride the poet Rudyard Kipling as an imperialist, but imperialism was not to him a matter of national aggrandizement. It was a matter of technocracy. His verses on “The White Man’s Burden” were not addressed to his own people, but were an appeal to America to join in the task of civilizing the backward territories, an appeal to them as technicians: “Send forth the best ye breed,” he urged. Canada may be, as Kipling called her, “Our Lady of the Snows” but her interests reach into tropical Africa.

Canadians do not allow absorption with their internal affairs to blind them to what is going on elsewhere. They may not always agree with what is being said and done in other countries, but they know that they must participate. As the Manchester Guardian said recently: “the starved, the deprived, the dying, the rejected, the despised, the criminal, are all part of ourselves, part of the great half-submerged continent of humanity.”

Canada & trusted

It has been said that a true man never fails those who trust him, and Canada is trusted among the nations small and great as few others have been. She is respected in world councils for her demonstrated willingness to assume varied obligations around the globe.

Canada is contributing in no small way toward solving the great issues of national and international security in a world that is becoming afraid under the shadow of its space missiles.

In every international crisis she has held to the principle of flexibility and compromise to ease tension. In the words of President Johnson of the United States to the Prime Minister: “You have followed the difficult path to peace that can save the world, and have been a principal architect of that profound achievement.”

This is evidenced by the very substantial role Canada has played in peace-keeping abroad. Since 1948 Canada has assigned Canadians to every peacekeeping operation of the United Nations except one. Her General Burns became the world’s first commanding general of a truly international peace force. She played a leading role in establishing the United Nations Emergency Force. The United Nations Military Observer Group in India-Pakistan was formed with Canadian participation.

She has served on Supervisory Commissions in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, and is respected for her services in Cyprus and on the Israel – U.A.R. border. Her role in the Suez crisis was a vital one. More than 15,000 men and women of Canada’s armed forces are stationed in sixteen countries around the world.

Canada’s Prime Minister took a leading part in the 1966 Commonwealth meeting of prime ministers in London, being entrusted with preparing a formula to resolve differences of opinion on African affairs.

The underdeveloped countries

Peace-keeping does not consist entirely of armed guards. Many nations have been jet-propelled into a new age straight from their primeval ways of life. Some of these nations have high ideals, but they are compelled to think material thoughts if they are to keep their people alive – thoughts of food, medical care, hydro power, commodity production.

There is a crisis of the peasantry in the Orient, in Africa and elsewhere. Public health, improved agriculture, industrialization, and education are all essential, but they must be developed simultaneously if they are to be effective. A drop of only two cents a pound in the world price of its principal commodity may threaten an emerging nation’s health campaign, or its national school programme, or the stability of its government struggling to use democratic means in the solution of manifold problems.

Many individuals and organizations within Canada are contributing toward betterment. Country after country has turned toward Canada with requests for help. Application of methods learned in our northland has given us an international reputation in charting the rivers, soils, and forests of tropical Asia and Africa.

A few examples will illustrate the breadth of the Canadian effort. The Freedom from Hunger Committee co-ordinates the activities of some fifty non-governmental organizations which support self-help projects related to increased food production and better nutrition. The Red Cross Society carries out aid programmes of two sorts: long-term assistance including clothing and bedding made by volunteers; and emergency assistance including the sending of personnel and supplies to disaster areas.

CARE of Canada provides underprivileged areas with food, agricultural and other tools, clothing, seeds, books and educational equipment. The Foster Parents Plan gives funds for the care and training of orphaned children in several countries. The Grail Movement sends trained women to Asia, Africa and Latin America to do medical, social, cultural and community development work among women.

The Unitarian Service Committee supports eighty projects in the fields of child care, education, health and social welfare, primarily in the East. The National Farm Radio Forum supplies radios and establishes farm radio forums in India, to educate the people in health, farming, and citizenship.

The diplomatic service

The Department of External Affairs was established by Act of Parliament in May 1909. Today there are Canadian embassies and high commissioners accredited to more than 80 countries, staffed by a personnel of more than 900. All of these must count on spending at least fifty per cent of their career outside Canada. There are 76 accredited Commonwealth and foreign representatives in Canada.

Diplomacy is the conduct of affairs, the carrying on of business, between nations. The work of a mission abroad is: to conduct negotiations with the government to which it is accredited; to keep the home government informed of political and other developments of significance in the country in which it is serving; to watch over Canada’s interests in the country; to make information about Canada available, and to serve Canadians in the country. During the peak of the season passports for foreign travel are issued to Canadians at a rate of up to 6,000 a week.

Canada plays an active role in a broad range of economic consultations, meetings, seminars and projects which comprise the main work of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

A France-Canada Interparliamentary Association, with ten delegates from the Canadian Parliament, discussed economic and cultural relations and migration from France to Canada. In November 1965 the two countries signed a general cultural agreement to contribute to the strengthening of the traditional bonds of friendship between Canada and France.

When a Secretariat was set up by the Commonwealth, a Canadian diplomatist became Secretary-General, a title that carries with it grave responsibilities and enormous possibilities.

The United Nations

Canada is a hard-working member of the United Nations. Since it participated in drawing up the Charter in 1945, this country has, through its Department of External Affairs, taken an important and sometimes distinguished part in United Nations deliberations. Canada is a member of the thirteen specialized agencies of the UN, all of which have wide international responsibilities established by intergovernmental agreement. The United Nations Association in Canada, with 32 branches, is devoted mainly to an educational programme concentrating on young people.

The National UNICEF Committee has eight Canadians at work on the project in New York, and one in New Delhi. This is a project which won the 1965 Peace Prize. The aim of UNICEF is to promote permanent health, nutrition and welfare service for children. The Save the Children Fund carries out emergency aid programmes throughout the world and supports self-help projects in education, health, housing and welfare.

Canada has decided to play a part in three ambitious educational programmes of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization with a 1980 dead-line: to get all children into school, to get ten per cent of children into secondary schools, and to make 500 million adults literate in the sense of fully participating in community development.

The World Refugee Year appeal brought together some 45 Canadian voluntary organizations in support of their own programmes and those of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

Great appreciation has been expressed for Canada’s role in providing resettlement opportunities, especially for handicapped persons.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations was founded at Quebec City in 1945. This year, 33 Canadians are serving it in expert capacities in 21 countries.

Canada is well represented abroad in the trade and commerce fields. There are Canadian Government trade commissioners in fifty countries and trade specialists in six. In addition, the Atlantic Provinces have a representative in London, and Nova Scotia has information offices in Boston and New York. Quebec has Agents General in London, Paris, Milan and New York. Ontario has five offices abroad, in Chicago, New York, London, Milan and Duesseldorf. Saskatchewan has an office in London, Alberta has offices in London and Los Angeles; and British Columbia has offices in London and San Francisco.

The Canada Immigration Division overseas branch has 550 persons employed in 37 major world centres with the prime object of helping to meet Canada’s needs for professional, managerial, skilled and educated people. The Government Travel Bureau has twenty offices in the United States and overseas.

Canadian newspaper, radio, and television reporters are exploring every country on earth for news about what is going on there. The CBC has sent 21 advisers to developing countries during the past six years, and about 160 broadcasters have been given training in Canada. Up to 25 staff members of the CBC are serving at strategic points throughout the world.

There are ten Canadians serving on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, responsible for the preservation of the graves of those who gave their lives in the 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 wars. Of the Commonwealth total of 880,000 identified burials, the figure for Canada is 81,000, second only to that of the United Kingdom.

Canada, NATO and the U.S.A.

It is trite to refer to relations between Canada and the United States as “unique”, but there are elements in our situation which are not to be found in that of any other pair of independent countries in the world.

Canada and the United States are, in Churchill’s phrase, “mixed up together”, but there are important differences, and acceptance of this fact is essential to the successful working of the partnership.

It was because of the deep involvement of each country in the other that the President and the Prime Minister decided to commission a working group to formulate the general guidelines which should govern the complex economic relations. The report said: “There are large opportunities for mutual advantage in the extension of the partnership of our two countries. For our part, we are satisfied that the process can be as mutually rewarding as it is inevitable.”

Canada was one of twelve nations that signed the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949. Her military contribution includes ships of the Royal Canadian Navy, infantry, and an air division.

This organization is a guarantee of Canadian security within the Western alliance, and it is a forum for consultation on international matters. NATO still has to proceed to deal with Article II, inserted at the insistence of Canada: “… they will seek to eliminate conflict in their international policies and will encourage economic collaboration between any or all of them.”

Canada’s aid programmes

In recognition of the pressing needs of the developing areas of the world, Canada participates in a number of economic, educational and technical assistance programmes abroad.

She is a substantial contributor to the United Nations Development Programme, the UN Children’s Fund, and the International Development Association (the World Bank).

Canada’s assistance given direct to needy countries is for agriculture, forestry and fishing; transport and communications; energy resources; industrial raw materials and fertilizer components; food, education and housing; technical assistance and industrial development. Canada is demonstrating her ability to adapt men, machinery and methods to development work in more than sixty countries of widely varying character.

Canadian aid is related to Canadian capabilities. Contracts for capital projects are given to Canadian firms only, scholarships and fellowships are tenable only in Canada, and advisers and teachers sent abroad are exclusively nationals of Canada.

Last year, Canada undertook such diverse projects as irrigation and land reclamation in Ghana; fertilizer supply to India and Pakistan; resources survey in Malaysia; and river basin development in Ecuador. She also assisted the West Indies, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia and Thailand in projects associated with agricultural benefits.

There are some 340 Canadian advisers overseas in such fields as taxation, wheat breeding, plant pathology, soil and geological surveying, forest inventory, community development, transportation, neurology, orthopaedics, nurse training, management training, and machine accounting.

Work in Asia

The purpose of the imaginative Colombo Plan, of which Canada was a founding member, is to raise the standard of living in South and South-East Asia by accelerating the pace and widening the scope of economic development by a co-operative approach to their problems, with special emphasis on the production of food. It differs from most other schemes in that it combines technical assistance, such as training scholarships and the provision of experts, with capital aid.

Canada’s manpower activity is restricted to areas in which it is clear that Canadian technical experience can make a valuable contribution, for example in harnessing the waters of the River Indus and dividing them between India and Pakistan. Her capital assistance is directed toward helping to establish basic facilities upon which the assisted countries can develop their own economics.

Many groups and individuals are engaged in helpful work in Asia, adding to Canada’s governmental contributions. Private groups in Laval University and the University of Toronto organized a scheme by which young Canadian graduates in medicine, education, engineering and agriculture would live in villages, as far as possible at Asian standards, while giving their services. Saskatchewan, marking the Centenary, is raising a fund of $60,000 to provide a food processing, packaging and storage centre at Mysore, India.

Dr. Roby Kidd, formerly executive director of the Canadian Association for Adult Education, is developing a programme of adult education at the University of Rajasthan, in India. Dr. Edwin and Dr. Vivien Abbott, of the Canadian Friends, spent twelve years in rural India, where they developed farm equipment, introduced new and improved crops, and started a training programme for outcaste Indians.

Two reports will illustrate the value in human terms of the constructive work of Canadians abroad. Ten years ago Canadians dreamed of harnessing the small Kundah River in India and its tributaries for the economic development of the State of Madras: today their vision is a reality in concrete. It provides power to run 100,000 pump sets, irrigating 400,000 acres of land to produce 600,000 tons of food grain a year; it supplies power for manufacture of textiles, chemicals, cement, sugar and iron.

Second is the Warsak Dam in the Khyber Pass. Ten thousand Pakistanis employed on the dam became for the first time part of a regularly employed work force, with educational, welfare and health services supplied. More than three thousand received special training to semi-skilled or skilled levels. Many of them are contributing to the economic sufficiency of the area now served with hydro power and irrigation water.

Canadian engineers with experience on the massive Manicouagan dam in Quebec were called upon by India to design a huge power project in the rugged canyons of the Periyar River. It will supply power to much of Southern India.

At work in Africa

A tidal wave of political independence broke upon tropical Africa in the 1960’s, leaving behind a score of new sovereign states woefully lacking in knowledge of how to cope with their responsibilities. Africa is today a place of hopes unrealized, of dangers round every corner, of the burdens of political office weighing heavily on those who have assumed them in desperately poor countries.

Time is pressing. Experience has to be piled on very thickly. What Canadians have learned in a century has to be learned by Africans in a year.

Because many Africans tended to think of Canada as being rather different from the other white powers since she herself had been a colony and had no record of imperialism, they turned to her for help.

The bulk of Canadian assistance has been directed to the development of educational facilities. Rwanda, the most densely populated nation in Africa, is to have a national university, open to all citizens, non-sectarian. Twenty-three French-speaking professors went from Canada to staff the university.

When Nyasaland became independent under the name Malawi in 1964, its prime minister wrote to the Canadian government requesting help. His country had only three qualified doctors of medicine, of whom he was one. Today there are three Canadian doctors and eight Canadian nurses working in Malawi.

A programme called the Special Commonwealth Africa Aid Programme was launched, in which Canada participates. Twenty-two commonwealth governments set up an “aid to Zambia” sub-committee in July 1966 to produce a programme for technical, financial and logistical help.

There are thirty volunteers from the Canadian University Service Overseas in Tanzania, engaged in teaching, medicine, agriculture and administration. The University of Toronto is assisting in the establishment of a department of anaesthesia in the University of Lagos medical school in Nigeria.

Canada’s bicultural capabilities in education have enhanced her ability to mount a programme of educational assistance for the French-speaking countries of Africa. School buildings and equipment have been provided, educational films have been supplied to eight countries, and paper has been made available for the production of textbooks. Toward the end of 1965 there were 155 Canadian teachers serving in French-speaking Africa, and 41 trainees from the area studying in Canada.

Many participants

The Directory of Canadians with Service Overseas, published in 1964 by the Overseas Institute of Canada, lists almost 1,200 Canadians in more than a hundred countries and regions. This Institute is a private, non-profit organization designed to mobilize Canadian efforts in educational and technical assistance.

The essential dynamism for overseas service came initially from university students. National action was taken on June 6, 1961, when the Canadian University Service Overseas was born. In September, long before the United States Peace Corps got moving, seventeen young Canadians were in Ceylon, India and Sarawak, working as teachers, nurses, engineers and in other helpful professions.

These young people are not serving in any spirit of “do-goodism” but with the practical purpose of being of practical service. The Bulletin of CUSO is packed with the stories of service, adventures and triumphs in places that are to most Canadians merely names on a map. The Marianopolis College Alumnae Review had a letter in Spring which said: “It seems strange to hear of people saying how wonderful we are to be out here working with these kids. We are having the time of our lives.”

Not only youths are engaged. Overseas service has no age limit: the oldest CUSO volunteer presently overseas is 53; the youngest is 20. Donald Lowe, 78 years old, a Vancouver engineer, is tackling a highway problem in Uganda.


Not all universities keep track of their alumni, but several responded with accounts which may be taken as typical of how the institutions of higher learning are carrying Canada into the world.

Queen’s University knows of 750 of its graduates who are overseas. Queen’s has been lauded for its contribution of alumni to the diplomatic service – it has 44 now serving in embassies and as government representatives – but these 750 include 155 engineers and scientists and 100 teachers, while others are serving in medicine, the armed forces, business and missions.

At one time the University of Toronto had 17 Canadian diplomatists with the rank of head of mission. It has sent members of its staff to establish a regional engineering college in Mangalore, India, and it has others serving in Tanzania, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Greece and India.

Four out of six applicants from the University of Windsor were accepted by CUSO this year, and it has had representatives in important positions in Guyana and Zambia. Carleton University has alumni teaching abroad in institutions ranging from universities to village schools, in Israel, Lebanon, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Malaysia, Tanzania, Trinidad, Ghana, Egypt and Japan. Carleton’s school of public administration has helped to educate civil servants from developing nations, and a Japanese graduate of its school of journalism has returned home to write a book about Canada for his countrymen.

Several graduates of the University of Waterloo are CUSO volunteers teaching in Trinidad and Africa. The University of British Columbia was selected by the United Nations as the site of its first regional training centre to prepare administrators and technologists from underdeveloped countries for senior positions. Five of its professors from the faculty of commerce have set up courses in accounting and business administration in Singapore and Malaya.

Education is not an overhead cost but a capital investment in the future of the developing countries. In 1965 there were 874 teachers and advisers serving abroad under Canadian Aid Programmes, made up of 130 in South and South-East Asia, 130 in the Caribbean, and 614 in Africa.

Canada’s aid has provided the equipment for scores of secondary schools, assisted in the building of three engineering institutes, set up a teacher training college and schools of accounting. Four secondary schools, constructed, equipped and staffed by Canada were opened in the Little Eight Islands of the West Indies, and two more are to be provided.

The University of Manitoba has supplied eight staff members to establish faculties of engineering and agriculture in Thailand. Laval University sent thirteen volunteers overseas under the CUSO scheme in Autumn, 1966. A husband and wife team, Mr. and Mrs. L. O. W. Burridge, setting out from Loyola College, wrote asking that the Monthly Letter be sent to them in Uganda.

The University of Guelph has a particular place in foreign service because of its specialized colleges in agricultural and veterinary sciences. Participation of its staff and graduates in work abroad includes setting up schools and educational programmes in Ghana and Jamaica; a programme in horticulture in Turkey; sociological study in Peru, and service in Canada’s embassies. Many graduates are abroad in the Crossroads Africa and CUSO programmes in Ghana, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Tanzania. Sir George Williams University has several graduates serving with CUSO, and two of its graduates, from Bangkok and Caracas, are serving as YMCA fraternal secretaries.

The Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire has offered scholarships to students from other parts of the Commonwealth, and its library programme is helping schools in the West Indies, British Honduras and Guyana. The African Students’ Foundation sponsors a hundred African students in Canadian universities.

Canada, the province of Manitoba and Malaysia came together in a training project which sent graduate native teachers out to cities and towns in Malaysia where new schools had been built – 54 schools equipped with three million dollars worth of Canadian instructional equipment.

It is evident that just as important results are obtained by bringing students from other countries to Canada, care having been taken to select young people who will not become alienated by their sojourn here. In 1965 there were 2,500 training programmes arranged in Canada for students and trainees from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.

Many students are placed with private industry for practical training. Under the technical assistance programme, a total of 842 students from India had received training here up to the end of the latest academic year, and there had been 533 from Pakistan, 191 from Burma, 103 from Singapore, 398 from

Malaysia, and 145 from Ceylon.

Students from fifty other countries have come to Canada for courses in social leadership at the Coady International Institute, while some twenty of the Institute staff have been working abroad in the interests of the Antigonish Movement. A youth who studied at St. Francis Xavier University became vice-minister in charge of Korea’s agriculture and forestry.

The churches abroad

The Overseas Missionary Fellowship reported 104 Canadians abroad in 1965, engaged in medical and religious work. Its current programme includes medical work in Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Laos. The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada Overseas Missions Department has 119 missionaries in full-time activity in South America, the West Indies, the Orient, and Africa, along with twenty associate missionaries.

The Canadian Friends are presently co-sponsoring three overseas projects, in India, West Pakistan and Algeria. Baptist foreign missions have fifteen missionaries in the Congo, engaged in medical, educational, vocational, agricultural and Bible training. There are 26 in service in Bolivia and 71 in India.

The Young Men’s Christian Association has a world service now in its 77th year. It sends experienced secretaries to serve overseas, short-term specialists, student service workers, students who serve in foreign summer work camps, and volunteers who work with the United Nations Relief Works Agency.

Monseigneur N.-A. LaBrie, National Director of Mission Work of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada, reports 4,700 Canadians engaged abroad, 1,900 of them in Africa, 1,400 in Latin America, 1,100 in Asia and 230 in Oceania. Monseigneur LaBrie emphasizes that people of the advanced nations learn from those they teach. As to the purpose of the Church’s widespread missionary activity, he says: “Now, more than ever, the cultural effort of the Church mission consists not only in bringing to these people western values but at the same time Christian beliefs and laws.”

The United Church of Canada publication Outreach published a supplement in 1966 which has 92 pages filled with reports of missionary endeavour in sixteen countries. The 1966 budget for world mission work totals nearly $3 million.

The qualities needed

Individual service abroad is most attractive to young Canadians, and it is well to look at some of the qualities needed.

In Chaucer’s day a favourite way of escaping from the dreariness of a narrow environment, and giving a deeper meaning to one’s life, was to go on a pilgrimage to a holy place. The modern pilgrim seeks through secular commitment to knit the bonds which will form mankind into one community.

Taking part in world affairs does not mean demanding that other nations be remade in our image.

Host countries shudder at the notion of dewy-eyed “do-gooders” who want to set the world right, just as earnestly as they resent people who seek to impose a way of life on them. A Ghanaian official wrote: “Don’t send underdeveloped people to underdeveloped countries.”

The men and women going out from Canada under the various national and international plans are people who have seen the wideness of Canada’s place in the world; they are adaptable and flexible; they have acquired skills and the ability to use those skills in different environments; they have learned to improvise apparatus and methods in the new framework.

Patience and humility are necessary: patience in the Western sense of perseverance when the road is rough, and in the Eastern sense of merely waiting; and humility to understand that he is not sent abroad as a self-righteous pedlar of Western values and ways of doing things. These are virtues commonly associated with women, and women make up almost half the CUSO assignees.

The Confederation lesson

Confederation, the centenary of which will be celebrated in 1967, was an example of national emotional maturity. It meant the coming together of the provinces of Canada in an effort to work harmoniously for the good of all the country from sea to sea.

Canada today is an independent nation, formulating its own policies, negotiating and signing its own treaties, accrediting its own diplomatists, and settling in its own right the issues of peace and war. A hundred years of effort, understanding, and self-discipline have wrought this Canadian fabric. But it is clear that a partnership such as that of Canada’s provinces can only freely function within an international organization of like-minded people.

As Canada enters her second century as a united nation she has chosen the course of helping the underdeveloped countries to gain a reasonable hope of freedom from ignorance and economic stringency and disease and to become truly democratic nations.

Many Canadians believe passionately that Canada has a great contribution to make to the welfare of mankind. They believe that Canada will participate in the attractive ideal expressed by Arnold J. Toynbee: “Our age will be remembered not for its horrifying crimes or its astonishing inventions, but because it is the first generation in history in which mankind dared to believe it practical to make the benefits of civilization available to the whole human race.”