A day in the life of Global Affairs Canada employees hired abroad
Did you know that in the diplomatic network of Canadian missions around the world, there is an average of 4 employees hired in the host country to 1 Canadian employee? Those individuals hired on-site are called locally engaged staff (LES). They play a crucial role in supporting the implementation Global Affairs Canada’s (GAC’s) mandate of foreign policy, trade, international development and consular services
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at who some of these employees are, what they do and what they enjoy about their work. So, let’s dive in and learn more about these unsung heroes of Canadian diplomacy!
Assets in the field
Staff hired in host countries play a key role in representing Canada’s interests abroad by helping Canadian diplomats navigate the complexities of the local environment. They are responsible for a wide range of tasks, from administrative and technical support to assisting with public affairs, trade and development initiatives.
For instance, Wilma Ty-Cañadilla, a migration officer at our embassy in Manila, has changed lives! She grants visas for various purposes such as travel, work and even reuniting loved ones. She particularly loves the latter: during an interview, she had the pleasure to grant a tourist visa to a woman who was visiting her fiancé. Upon receiving the visa, the woman expressed her gratitude and felt that it was a sign that she and her fiancé were meant to be together.
Maxim Cambor, a common services officer at our embassy in Prague, once got the chance to represent Canada in a big way: he and his team organized a major official reception for nearly 800 guests on Canada Day!
LES are also the ultimate experts in the field when it comes to bridging cultures, navigating complex diplomatic situations, and ensuring that Canadians are supported in foreign countries.
Some perks of being an LES
LES often speak fondly of their work, finding fulfillment in supporting their country’s international relations efforts while also learning about and connecting with other cultures.
Bjorn Hernes, a policy officer at our embassy in Oslo, has a great story about broadening his cultural horizons through learning and engaging with diverse communities. He once attended a local Indigenous performing arts festival where he was preparing food with a colleague for the event. He got a surprise when a Norwegian Sami tossed a reindeer carcass onto a table. Then, as Bjorn was wondering what to do with this gift, a few Inuit ladies from Canada’s Nunavik delegation at the festival showed him and his colleague how to dress the meat and cook the bone marrow. To this day, he remembers this experience fondly!
LES share valuable knowledge, language skills and cultural expertise with their Canadian colleagues and are often the backbone of GAC’s operations abroad. If you want to learn more about their realities, listen to our GAC Files podcast miniseries Locally engaged staff: Serving Canada around the world!
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