Here is a list of websites containing practical information designed for Canadian Internet-users based overseas, particularly in the UK. The collection includes websites created by the Canadian community in the UK, as well as others produced by, or affiliated with, the Government of Canada (GoC).
According to a Statistics Canada survey of Internet use in 2005, Canada is one of the world’s most “plugged-in” countries, with nearly 70% of adult Canadians using the Internet daily in 2005, most through high-speed web-connections. As a consequence, the Canadian Internet environment is both wide-ranging and highly sophisticated. In keeping with the “transnational” nature of the internet, online connectivity and accessibility is generally just as highly valued among Canadians abroad as those back home.
With the launch of the Canadian Government Online (GOL) initiative in October 1999, the GoC aimed to become “the world’s most connected country to its citizens”. According to the Government Online taskforce this aim was accomplished by March 2006, with information and 130 of the most commonly-used services and forms available online 24 / 7, internationally, and in both official languages (English and French, plus various Native languages, depending on the content). The GOL programme parallels similar initiatives around the world, not least the UK's Government Direct, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in November 2006. Like the UK initiative, GOL has sought to operate on an accessible, "joined-up", "whole-of-government" basis, with services designed around citizens' needs, rather than those of the government bureaucracy that supplies them. One of the key priorities has been to build users' confidence and trust in online services, and to recognise the importance of online security and privacy. The success of these ambitions is proven by the volume of clients completing transactions online; according to the most recent report, online transactions now account for 30% of all citizen - government interactions, and the customer satisfaction rate currently stands at 94%.
For Canadian citizens in the UK, this means that all of the most commonly used federal services while overseas (eg., citizenship, passport renewal, document replacement, electoral registration, pension claims), as well as emergency contingency-planning, repatriation, and other consular activities, are at least partly online. Likewise, commercial assistance, trade promotion, immigration, visa applications, together with other aspects of public diplomacy such as cultural and academic relations are all now part of the suite of electronic services provided by the Canadian High Commission in London, their Consulates and partners throughout the UK, and the head office of Foreign Affairs Canada, in Ottawa. Much the same can be said of the provincial Government of Québec in London, whose web-site provides access to a broad range of services from political and consular affairs, to cultural and academic relations.
Other online resources abound for Canadian citizens in the UK, particularly the estimated 200,000 expatriates. Many of the organisations and web-sites reflect historical links between Britain and Canada; thus, the Canada Club is one of the longest-established dining clubs in London, while one of the current social groups, the “Vandoos”, is named after the Royal 22nd French-Canadian Regiment, which stood guard at Buckingham Palace in April 1940. Also included are comprehensive information and advisory sites written by and for expatriates. There are also expansive gateways for students of Canada based in the UK, and web-sites dedicated to specific, one-off events or non-government organisations.
Government of Canada: Based on a model developed as part of the Government Online initiative, this portal offers a single point of access to integrated information and services for Canadian citizens, Canadian businesses, and the wider international audience.
Foreign Affairs Canada (Ottawa, ON): The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada supports Canadians abroad; helps Canadian companies succeed in global markets; promotes Canada's culture and values; and works to build a more peaceful and secure world.
Canada Europa (Ottawa, ON): The European Bureau of Foreign Affairs Canada.
Statistics Canada (Ottawa, ON): The main statistical bureau of the GoC. Provides a wealth of up-to-date demographic and economic information, as well detailed thematic reports and current awareness.
Canadian High Commission (London): Exists to provide representation, assistance, and support to Canadians in the UK. The High Commission is based at two sites in Central London: Canada House on Trafalgar Square, and MacDonald House on Grosvenor Square, where the High Commissioner’s Official Residence is located. There is also a network of Honorary Consulates in Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, and Edinburgh.
Consular Affairs (Canadian High Commission, London): A limited range of consular support is also provided by the Honorary Consulates.
Québec Government Office (London): The Délégation générale du Québec à Londres was opened in 1962. It represents the Québec government in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, and the Nordic Countries. As a Provincial institution, the Délégation fulfils a different mandate to the Canadian High Commission (which represents the Federal Government), and provides support and assistance to all Quebec citizens in the UK.
Canada-UK Colloquium (London and Ottawa): Supported by Foreign Affairs Canada and the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Colloquium is an annual event, alternating between Canada and the UK, which seeks to promote a close and dynamic relationship between the two countries, and to publish new research on bilateral relations.
Cultural Relations Unit (Canadian High Commission, London): As part of the Canadian High Commission’s Public Diplomacy Section, the mandate of the Cultural Relations Unit is to project a coherent, distinctive and influential Canadian voice to UK decision-makers and opinion-leaders, through strategic advocacy, profile-raising and network-building efforts. The programme incorporates advice and information, assistance with cultural programming, liaison between UK and Canadian cultural agencies, and grant funding. Also produces a bi-monthly arts bulletin, Arts News.
Canadian Heritage (Ottawa, ON): The key government department which exists to promote Canadian culture in all its forms around the world.
Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce (London)
Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (Canadian High Commission, London)
Canadian Affair (London): Leading UK tour operator to Canada. The sister company is based in Vancouver, BC, and specialises in travel from Canada to Britain.
Network Canada (London): A networking group for young Canadian professionals in the UK.
International Council for Canadian Studies (Ottawa, ON)
National Library and Archives of Canada (Ottawa, ON)
Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (Montreal, QC)
British Association of Canadian Studies (BACS; Edinburgh / London): BACS functions as a forum and meeting point for Canadian Studies in Britain. The Association organises a prestigious annual conference, and publishes the British Journal of Canadian Studies annually.
“Migrations”: BACS 31st Annual Conference (New Hall, University of Cambridge): 19-21 April 2006
Access Canada (BACS): A one-stop gateway to information resources on Canada for people living and working in the UK. It is designed to be readily and freely usable by anyone with an interest in Canada, although there is a focus on resources relevant to students of Canadian Studies. User-generated, and peer-reviewed by the BACS Libraries and Resources Group (BACS-LARG).
Academic Relations Unit (Canadian High Commission, London): Another branch of the High Commission’s Public Diplomacy Section, Academic Relations exists to promote British scholarship on Canadian subjects, and to liaise between Canadian and British academics and institutions. The Unit also produces a termly bulletin, “Academic News”.
Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI; Cambridge): World-renowned centre of research into both polar regions, the SPRI is a sub-department of the University of Cambridge’s Department of Geography.
Canada 25 (London): A think-tank for young Canadians around the world, aged between 20-35 years, to address issues of local and national significance, develop policy proposals, implement local and national initiatives, and build an international network in public affairs and civic engagement. The London Chapter holds regular meetings, symposia, and social gatherings, supported by the Canadian High Commission.
Canada Club (London): One of the oldest dining clubs in London, and the most prestigious institution associated with Canada in the UK. Meets regularly at the Savoy Hotel, and hosts three dinners per year for dignitaries from Britain and Canada.
Vandoos (London): This social club takes its name from the historic French-Canadian Regiment, the Royal 22nd (pronounced "van-doo" in English, from the French "vingt-deux"). It is a group of Canadians—and those interested in Canada—who meet in London on the 22nd day of each month for an informal gathering. The Vandoos club has more than 200 members, and anywhere from 20 to 50 people attend each event. Membership is free.
Canada Day in Trafalgar Square 2006 (London): For the first time ever, Canada Day (1 July) was held in Trafalgar Square, and featured a musical and cultural celebration of all things Canadian. The successful event was attended by more than 30,000 visitors. The celebrations were the result of a partnership between the Lord Mayor of London’s Office, Foreign Affairs Canada, the National Capital Commission (Ottawa), and the Canadian Tourism Commission; the event was supported by sponsors including the Canadian High Commission, Blackberry, Canadian Affair, Air Canada, and Air Transat.
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7743
Fax: +44 (0)20 412 7563