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“New visa requirements a ‘wake-up call’ for citizens of Antigua and Barbuda”
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“New visa requirements a ‘wake-up call’ for citizens of Antigua and Barbuda”

Ariana Joseph, 17, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Antigua and Barbuda, now studying in Canada, writes that a recent policy change that requires a visa for her country’s residents to travel to Canada should act as a wake-up call for citizens to pay closer attention to diplomatic and political affairs. 

On Monday 26th June 2017 the serenity of my working environment was interrupted with the stunning news that nationals of Antigua and Barbuda would now require a visa to travel to Canada. This singular decision fundamentally altered decades of visa-free access to Canada. Over many years, our relationship with Canada has been special, particularly since both sister nations are part of the British Commonwealth and share a common Sovereign.

That relationship has been very beneficial to Antigua and Barbuda. My father received his elementary education, and later his secondary education, in the magnificent edifice, which opened in September 1965 in the twin village of Jennings and Ebenezer. That structure was gifted to the people of Antigua and Barbuda by the government and people of Canada. However, this magnanimous gesture did not stop there. The Canadian government sent out a number of trained teachers to complement the cadre of local educators.

Over the years, the Canadian government has opened its doors to many Antiguans and Barbudans seeking work or pursuing higher education. One Antiguan who has made stellar contributions to his new home is Dr. Carl James, who has received recognition from both the Canadian government and the Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda for his contribution to the Antigua and Barbuda diaspora.

Today, I follow in the footsteps of countless Antiguans and Barbudans who have or are now studying in Canada. In studying there, I believe I am helping fortify the historical bridges that bind us together across our Commonwealth.

Nevertheless, we live in a world that is radically different from that of the last century. Border security, for example, has become paramount. It is understandable that in today’s world each nation needs to be vigilant. They need to do all that is necessary to protect their borders, and their citizens. To do otherwise, surely, would be extremely reckless.

As Antiguans and Barbudans, however, we need to recognize the impact this policy decision will have on our relationship with Canada. Indeed, the requisition of a visa is hardly as bad as the circumstances some other nations are facing, in particular, travel bans.  Still, the fact that citizens of Antigua and Barbuda now require visa to travel to Canada should act as a wake-up call for our nation to pay closer attention to diplomatic and political affairs that have broad ramifications for our citizens.

photo credit: wuestenigel photopin (license)

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About me: My ambition is to become a cardio-thoracic paediatric surgeon. In preparation for this, I have commenced undergraduate studies focusing on a double major in biology and chemistry. Once I have completed my undergraduate studies, it is my intention to obtain a medical degree, pursue research studies in genetics, and eventually establish a medical services centre.

I have a passion for reading, writing, playing the violin, and engaging in community service projects. I am presently enrolled at Saint Mary’s University, Canada.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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