2003/2004 Foreign Policy Group

Left to right, Fellows Jamie Ross, David Helliwell, Zenia Wadhwani, Flavie Major, Ann McCann, Annamie Paul and Gabriel Jean-Simon

Left to right: Fellows Jamie Ross, David Helliwell, Zenia Wadhwani, Flavie Major, Ann McCann, Annamie Paul and Gabriel Jean-Simon

Alia Ali, Neil Bouwer and Jan Stefan Eperjesi

Two documentary films exposing Southeast Asian perceptions of Canada and its foreign policies shed new light on how Canada can improve its international public policy development and promote better cultural understanding.

Working with local film producers in Indonesia and Pakistan, three Action Canada Fellows produced Jakarta: What They Think (of us) and Identity: Canada Through a Foreign Eye ( Pakistan). The films reveal not only the commonly held stereotypes of ‘the East’ and ‘the West’ but also a wide cross-section of people’s perceptions about Canada. The films also posed questions about how Canada could act in these regions to build international public policy development and promote better intercultural understanding.

Using inferences from the films, the group then devised a framework for policy discussion. They proposed that Canadian foreign policy might promote ‘reciprocal cultural affirmation’ as a means to increase the effectiveness of our public diplomacy, contribute to global stability and prosperity and to advance Canada’s interests and our role in the world.

The group is now in the midst of distributing the films in hopes of stimulating further dialogue and exchanges of ideas, particularly at the policy development level.