His Excellency, Andrej Gregor Rode, Ambassador for the Republic of Slovenia to Canada, visited Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada for the first time, from June 16 – 20.
His arrival was greeted with much anticipation, as a principal objective was to introduce key players, as well as business ideas, to widen our Canadian-Slovenian economic network to include British Columbia. The work market is very different in this far-west province, understanding that mining, tourism, and now, a budding IT industry, are the 3 main areas of interest.
Ambassador Andrej Rode started his visit with a full day of meetings. On Friday, June 17, the EU Chamber of Commerce in Canada West organized a business meeting with career diplomats from France, Ireland, and Italy, together with Invest Vancouver, to find out more about Slovenia, and share opportunities, challenges, and lessons learned. The President of this Chamber, Celso Boscariol, greeted the Ambassador and welcomed John Doma, Sonya Rosenwirth and Simon Pribac as they attended virtually with Zoom from Ontario. The meeting concluded with a fulsome agreement that while economic delegations tend to stop in Toronto, it is our collective mission to show it is worth those extra kilometers to come to Vancouver to understand our market economy and its many opportunities for the Slovenian business, cultural, academic and tourism sectors.
We then met with officials from Trade and Industry Development, who are committed to supporting us when we have specific requirements and projects to develop and carry out. Interesting to note that Rupert Potter, the former consul general for the UK in BC and a colleague of mine, is now British Columbia’s Trade and Investment Director located in London, UK. Once we are ready with specific projects, Rupert will gladly help us.
We then had a quick lunch with the consul general for Brazil, Renato Mosca, who was the former ambassador for Brazil in Slovenia. Since SloBraz is such an active network, it was interesting to meet with Renato. We discussed possible cultural as well as business opportunities, and how the Slovenian Global business community is connected with Slovenians in Brazil.
The afternoon was devoted to exploring the University of British Columbia (UBC), with an extensive tour and presentation of our Kurent and Rusina. They are both permanent exhibits at the Museum of Anthropology. The Ambassador and Mrs. Rode were thrilled to see our cultural artifact displayed so prominently! The Museum director, Dr. Susan Rowley, expressed an interest in furthering academic exchanges with post-doctorate students from Slovenia to UBC since the Museum is also the faculty of Arts at the University.
On Saturday morning we had a breakfast meeting with Bruce Ralston, BC Minister for Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources and also Minister responsible for the British Columbia Consular Corps. We discussed our consular work here, as well as the importance of developing partnerships to highlight Slovenia and help the BC marketplace be better understood in our many sectors.
On Sunday, the Vancouver Slovenian Community hosted the Ambassador and Mrs. Rode, with over 100 attendees. This participation was remarkable given how small our community is, and shows how interested our Slovenians are in meeting the Ambassador and strengthening ties with Slovenia! This was the first gathering since pre-pandemic times and offered a joyful celebration of folkloric dances and of course, the accordion.
On Monday, my husband and I introduced the Ambassador and Mrs. Rode to our beautiful B.C. nature; the tour included a small hike, a drive up the Sea to Sky Highway, and a nice lunch in Horseshoe Bay, which used to be a fishing village in West Vancouver. A relaxed day offered us lots of time to share ideas for future projects; and, most important to me, during these 4 days I was able to be fully immersed in Slovenian!
- Dr. Margaret Rudolf, Honorary Consul for Slovenia in British Columbia, CSCC Director of the Board.