Canada Day: virtual festival brings country closer to Brazilians

CCBC Festival promoted 25 events, which brought together 66 speakers over five days, and which discussed topics such as education, diversity, innovation and culture

By Sérgio Siscaro

July 1st is a special date for Canada. All around the country Canadians celebrate the Canada Day, which marks the anniversary of the country’s initial formation, in 1867. As every year, the Chamber of Commerce Brazil-Canada (CCBC) took the opportunity to promote a five-day festival, in the which a series of events addressed topics relevant to the Brazil-Canada relationship – such as education, diversity, innovation, entrepreneurship, tourism and culture. Due to the pandemic of the new coronavirus, the initiatives were carried out online – but this did not affect the variety of shared content, or the debates promoted between July 1st and 5th.

Organized in four main thematic axes (education, diversity, innovation and culture), the Canada Day CCBC Online Festival brought together 66 speakers in 25 events, carried out with the collaboration of 32 partners, the support of the Government of Canada and the sponsorship of Air Canada. In all, the participants had access to more than 200 cultural contents covering art, education, gastronomy, virtual tours, music, education and random interesting facts – all available in Portuguese, English and French. 40 tourist routes covering all regions of Canada were also released (check out the festival’s event schedule below). A special website concentrated several additional contents, such as movies, documentaries, sporting events and much more – besides bringing interesting facts about Canada. All of these videos, as well as the festival’s presentations, will continue to be available on the website, allowing anyone who was unable to follow the live to check the full lectures.

With more than one thousand subscribers and four thousand visitors, the CCBC initiative was a success. “We were very happy with the repercussions of this event. The support of the 66 speakers, the Canadian government and several partners was very important, as well as our sponsor, Air Canada, and all CCBC employees”, said CCBC’s Institutional Relations director, Paulo de Castro Reis. The festival also received recognition from the official Canada Day 2020 website, in the “Around the World” section.

The date was also the subject of official celebrations by the Canadian government in Brazil. On June 30, the beginning of activities was marked by lighting up Cristo Redentor, in Rio de Janeiro, with the colors of the Canadian flag. And on July 2, two cooperation initiatives were launched between Brazil and Canada to fight the spread of Covid-19: one aimed at guaranteeing food supply for communities in situations of social vulnerability in Rio de Janeiro, and the other at offering online services for women victims of domestic violence.

Education, tourism and diversity

On the morning of July 1st (Wednesday), a roundtable was held in which representatives of Alumni Canada Brasil addressed the Canadian culture of volunteering and its influential role in education. President Jéssica Sbroglia; the director of Institutional Relations and Partnerships, Claire Lagier; and the deputy directors of Communication and Social Media, Natalia Kirsch Koff and Janyne Leonardi participated.

Next, an Air Canada presentation was made on the potential of cities on the East Coast of Canada, such as Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. The event brought together the regional manager, Fernando Alves da Silva; account executive Sandra Passetto; and airport director Evaristo Oliveira. The founder of Vertebratta, Sheila Nassar, also participated.

The Canadian example of commitment to diversity was the objective of the following presentation, in which the consul and head of Canada’s commercial sector in Brazil and co-coordinator of the CCBC Diversity Committee, Elise Racicot, interviewed four Brazilian guests, who live in the Canada, on the topic: Arnon Melo (MELLOHAWK Logistics), Jamile Cruz (I&D 101), Nicole Orsi Barioni (Immigrant and International Women in Science) and Carolina Hack (GC5 Trading).

The successful performance of Brazilian researchers in Canada was analyzed below, in a panel with the participation of Nathália Batista (University of Toronto), Daniel Holanda (University of British Columbia), Jéssica Sbroglia (Alumni Canada Brazil) and Daniel Rodrigues (Université Laval).

At the end of the day, a virtual cocktail was held for the launch of the Canada Day CCBC Online Festival, with the presence of the Canadian ambassador to Brazil, Jennifer May, and the Brazilian ambassador to Canada, Pedro Henrique Lopes Borio. Also attending were Heather Cameron and Evelyne Coulombe (Consulate General of Canada), Pedro Miguel da Costa e Silva (secretary of Bilateral and Regional Negotiations in the Americas), Affonso Massot (executive secretary for International Relations), Giancarlo Takegawa (Air Canada), Paulo Perrotti and Paulo de Castro Reis (CCBC).

Business opportunities

On July 2nd (Thursday), another series of events addressed Canada’s potential as a business destination and technological hub. The first event, presented by Eliza Fiuza and Laurence Fouquette-L’Anglais (Montréal International) and Thais Aun (Québec Office in São Paulo), showed how the Greater Montreal metropolitan region has been standing out regarding the innovation and cutting-edge technology development. Following, Elsa Bruyère and Marie-André Roger (Fabrique_A), Emmanuel Cameron (Continuums) and Vincent Dussault (Fabmob) spoke about business opportunities in Quebec. Montreal’s prominent position among the university cities on the continent was demonstrated by Carine Berteli Cardoso (Université de Montréal) and Eugénie Bergeron-Côté (Montreal International).

In the afternoon, the focus was on specific sectors of the economy – and the opportunities they offer. The growing space occupied by women in the mining sector in Canada was discussed in a panel that brought together as participants Evelyne Coulombe (Consulate General of Canada), Ana Cunha (Kinross), Maria da Graça Montalvão and Wilson Borges (Lundin Mining) and Natália Leoni Sobral (Largo Resources). The premium wine segment and the renowned Canadian Icewine, produced in Ontario, was shown below by Magdalena Kaiser (VQA Wines of Ontario). The challenges for the internationalization of Brazilian companies in Canada set the tone for the next panel, conducted by Adriano Silva and Luis Barrionuevo (Draft Canada) and Paula Nunes (Bizmatch).

Academy and technology

On July 3rd (Friday), the possibilities created by the quality of Canadian educational institutions were presented by Marie-Hélène Béland, Fernanda Albano and Edna Matsuka, from the Consulate General of Canada. The following was a debate on Collision from Home – a technology conference held in June in Canada – led by Heather Cameron, conducted by Elise Racicot (both from the Consulate General of Canada). The presentation also had the participation of Carlos Eduardo Brandão (Intelliway Tecnologia), Gustavo Diniz Machado (Turbo/Ipiranga) and Paulo Roberto Fachinetti de Azevedo (Banco do Brasil).

Finishing the morning program, Álvaro Avezum Júnior, director of the International Research Center of Hospital Alemão Oswaldo Cruz, addressed a topic little known to the general public, but of great importance: bilateral cooperation in clinical research, with emphasis on the research routines carried out collaboratively with the Canadian Population Health Research Institute (PHRI).

The discussion of topics related to innovation and entrepreneurship continued, with the presentation by Launch Academy’s CEO, Ray Walia, who introduced the British Columbia innovation ecosystem; and the importance of expanding the scope of startups, addressed by District 3 international partnerships manager, Gisleine Silveira. Next, the attractiveness of products that demonstrate ethnic diversity in the Canadian market was discussed by Karen Sinotte (George Brown College) and Anna Christina Fleury (Dacolor Canada). The closing of the day’s activities included a presentation on Canadian folklore, led by professor and translator Ed Batista.

Successful testimonials

On July 4th (Saturday), the Canada Day CCBC Online Festival included an interactive chat about female entrepreneurship, based on the experience reported by businesswoman Márcia Stipanich in Canada, and participation by the Marketing Director of the Federation Canadian-Brazilian Businesses (FCBB), Pedro Pina. Another round table was promoted, addressing Canadian schools in Ontario, with the participation of Eduardo Flit and Luciano Tavares (Canadá Com Você), Francine Teles (Canadore College), Thays Afonso (George Brown College) and Fabio Araujo (Algonquin College).

The educational network Maple Bear brought to the festival a moment to unwind with the family, in which parents and children could learn about Canada’s history through a conversation, in Portuguese, between Luiza Calceti (Maple Bear São Paulo Mooca), the Bear mascot (represented by Roberta Ambrosevicius Carrillo, from Maple Bear São Paulo Mooca) and with a presentation by Rafael Mangini, coordinator of the CCBC Education Commission.

On July 5th (Sunday), the last day of the festival, two more events discussed education and entrepreneurship in Canada. The first one, focused on scholarships, was conducted by Jéssica Sbroglia and Claire Lagier (Alumni Canada Brasil); the second one, which brought the experiences of Beatnik & Sons’ CEO, Lipsio Carvalho, to undertake in Canada, counted on the participation of the FCBB’s CEO, Sergio Frias. Also on that day, a more casual conversation was held, focusing on the history of Canada Day and the origin of the country’s symbols. In English, the presentation had as a participant, via YouTube, the Canadian athlete Bradley Bowden (twice Paralympic gold medalist).

The formation of a country

The celebration of Canada Day dates back to 1867, when three colonies dissociated from the British Empire in North America decided to merger – the provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. They went on to form a unified confederation, which would be the Dominion of Canada: a virtually independent country, although its foreign policy was still determined by the British crown.

In the following decades, new territories would join the confederation, until the incorporation of Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905. Canadian independence was strengthened with the Westminster Statute in 1931, and consolidated with the Constitution Act of 1982, which ended any legal bonds that still united the country to the United Kingdom.

It was from that moment that the July 1st came to be called Canada Day (or in French, Fête du Canada). The celebration started to gain more strength as of the centenary, in 1967 when several cultural initiatives started to integrate the celebrations. This year, due to the pandemic of the new coronavirus, several Canadian municipalities canceled the usual fireworks firings, opting for virtual celebrations that allow the maintenance of social distancing practices.

CCBC always sets the date with a special program of events that bring the two countries even closer together. In 2017, when the 150th anniversary of the Dominion of Canada was celebrated, the organization promoted the second edition of its already renowned Gastronomic Week, presenting typical Canadian dishes to the Brazilian population, and the third edition of the photography show Exchanging Glances – Images of two cultures. The success of the Canada Day CCBC Online Festival confirms CCBC’s commitment to celebrate and reinforce the ties that unite the two countries.