Past Events

On Thursday January 19, 2023, the Child and Youth Studies Department at Brock University hosted a University of West Indies post-doctoral researcher, Alana Malinde S. N. Lancaster, in a hybrid event. The colloquium was entitled, “Double, Double, Toil and Trouble: Colonialism, Climate Justice, & Reconceptualizing The Role of Women and Children Within the [Caribbean’s] Climate Cauldron/(Conundrum).

The video recording of the event will be uploaded here shortly!

Picture of Alana Lancaster


On March 31, 2022, the Canada-Caribbean Institute, anchored by The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and Brock University in Ontario, hosted an online discussion of the 50th Anniversary of the Election of Michael Manley.

The discussion features:

  • Dr. Michael Witter
  • Ms. Niki Ashton, MP
  • Dr. Simon Black, and
  • H.E. Ambassador Aloun Assamba

Better Must Come Recording

make the world new: A celebration and discussion of the work, poetry, and influence of lillian allen

On March 18, 2022, the Canada-Caribbean Institute, anchored by The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and Brock University in Ontario, hosted an online discussion to celebrate the work of Lillian Allen.

The discussion featured:

  • Dr. Aisha T. Spencer (UWI)
  • Dr. Ronald Cummings (McMaster University)
  • Dr. Michael A. Bucknor (UWI)
  • Dr. Lisa Tomlinson (Institute of Caribbean Studies)
  • Dr. Gregory Betts (Brock University)And a reading and talk by Lillian Allen (Ontario College of Art and Design University)
Event details

seasonal worker issues during covid-19: an online forum

On April 30, 2020, the Canada-Caribbean Institute, anchored by The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and Brock University in Ontario, Canada hosted an online forum on Seasonal Farm Workers in Canada during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Recordings of the session is available by using the following links:

Part 1:
Part 2:

Moderated by Ambassador Dr. Richard Bernal, Professor of Practice, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Global Affairs at The UWI, the presenters and their topics were:

  • Dr. Talia Esnard (The UWI): Strengthening structures and practices of migrant farm work:
  • A case for critical and public agendas.
  • Dr. Simon Black (Brock University): Migrant Worker Justice and the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Dr. Liette Vasseur (Brock University): Foreign workers: an essential service in Canadian agriculture and how to protect them.
  • Dr. Claudette Crawford-Brown (The UWI): Psycho-social implications for migrant farmworkers in Canada in the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were between 80 to 100 participants in the forum, comprised of representatives of the diplomatic and consular corps, universities, advocacy organizations, the media, and other interested parties.


Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme (SAWP) was first established in 1966, beginning with Jamaica and expanding to other Commonwealth Caribbean States thereafter. Management of the program is through agreements between Canada (federal and provincial governments) and the sending countries covering issues such as accommodation, travel, wage levels, repatriation, and contracts between the workers and the farmers. Workers can remain within Canada for a period not exceeding 8 months, tied to a specified employer, but they can return.

The seasonal farmworkers are considered to be providing an essential service in Canadian agriculture. While some of the workers may be viewed as unskilled, others (such as those that work in vineyards) are described as “highly skilled”. The SAWP has been viewed as an international best practice. It has proven to be beneficial at diverse levels (economy, state, employers/farmers, and for the farmworkers). However, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of systematic political, economic, and social issues that plague its advancement have been identified.

Problems identified during the discussion:

  • Fear of reprisal on the part of the seasonal farmworkers should they raise any issues
  • Seasonal farmworkers excluded from key labour/social protections and rights
  • Geographic and social isolation of the seasonal farmworkers
  • Seasonal farmworkers subjected to discrimination in the wider communities
  • While there are stated regulations (for example, employers have obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act [OHSA] and its regulations to protect seasonal farmworkers from hazards in the workplace, including infectious diseases, and the Employment Standards Act [ESA]), and there is prescribed supervision, there is a deficit in enforcement.
  • Need for improved orientation, communication and support from the governments of the sending countries both prior to departure and while the farmworkers are overseas, which takes into consideration their educational, social, and economic background.

Panel Recommendations

The presentations highlighted areas in which the CCI could encourage action and research and produce policy recommendations to the governments concerned to enhance the relationship and deal with issues for the Caribbean and in Canada. These include:


  • Greater research, advocacy, and community engagement that collectively strengthen the promise of social justice.

Policy issues

  • Equal access to labour protections/social entitlements to include SAWP-specific items, expedited appeals process for OHS and ESA complaints, anti-reprisal protections and open work permits, collective bargaining.
  • Extend provincial government wage boost for essential workers to farmworkers
  • Pathways to permanent residency/citizenship
  •  Facilitate claims for Canadian Employment Insurance while in their home country
  • A robust, proactive inspection and enforcement regime
  • Development of advocacy groups in the Caribbean and strengthening of collaboration with advocacy groups in Canada.


  • Education for seasonal farmers not only in Canada but before they leave their country
  • Education for communities and the media in the home country and in Canada about the SAWP and the importance of agriculture.
  • Produce and utilize various forms of media in the home country for educational programs covering a variety of areas involved in participation in the SAWP, to include farmworkers themselves.
  • Provide/utilize cell phones and other information communication technology to keep farmworkers in touch with their home country and for tele-counselling accessible across borders.