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Centro Paraguayo de Estudios Canadienses
Gral Santos 606 c/ Juan de Salazar.
Asunción, Paraguay

Telefax: (595-21) 202 630

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CPEC Report – I Congress of the Americas “Understanding Canada”, year 2009

The congress was a result of hard work and a series of facts that were turned into a big success. In spite of the difficulties we had to go through in regards to the late financial support, the Centro Paraguayo de Estudios Canadienses was determined to accomplish its initial goal with the support of Cristina Lucchini, president of ASAEC with an Argentinian Delegation of their various Centers, Beatriz Ventura, Canadian Embassy Academic and Public Affairs Officer, RELEC with their representatives of different Latin American Countries, Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, Chile, and Brasil and SEMINECAL. We also received the kind support of two Canadian Universities, Memorial University and the University of Manitoba with two speakers, Dr. Erwin Warkentin and Dr. David Walker.

The preparation previous to the congress consumed a lot of energy and time concerning to venue arrangements, program brochure and poster designs, and the programming of the congress itself. There were a lot of prior visits to ten local private universities and National University with its various faculties on different fields. There were a lot of presentations to professionals, business people, journalists, local newspapers and students to have the congress “I Congreso de las Americas “Understanding Canada” become more visible. I personally met with Presidents and Deans of private Universities, and National University through the Asociación Paraguaya de Universidades Privadas and Red Internacional de Universidades Privadas y Nacionales. Both associations showed their interest in signing agreements with CPEC to work in cooperation for future projects. CPEC will act as a link between Paraguayan Universities and Canadian Universities.
All these previous work to the congress was sustained, highlighted and reinforced by the visit of the Minister Towes and Ambassador Tim Martin who kindly accepted to announce the I Congreso de las Américas “Understanding Canada” to the most important local press, ABC Color, Ultima Hora, La Nación and TV channels.

A week before the congress, a delegation from Manitoba came to Paraguay to finalize the agreements with ITAIPU Binacional to sponsor 40 scholarships to the University of Manitoba and explore more closely about the possibility of building and establish an Ecological Interpretive Center in the area of ITAIPU to increase the tourism on the Paraguayan side since 2.000.000 people visit the Brasilian side only. I was very busy with this matter the week prior to the congress. I also hosted the delegation and offered them dinner on their own honor with the presence of our Ambassador in Canada, Manuel Schaerer. There were also some Engineers from Canada that came to work with our Electrical Company since our electricity transportation is in danger.

On the 15th of September RELEC delegation arrived Paraguay. The meeting took place for two days in a row and assembled representatives from different countries such as four from Mexico, one from Cuba, 17 from the Argentinian Delegation and a representative from the Canadian Embassy in Argentina, two from Brasil, one from Chile, and one
from Colombia. I attended only part of the meeting because of the congress arrangements but another representative from our board attended the two full days. RELEC discussed the bylaws, elections, the possibility of designing an annual Journal and future projects. The Canadian Speakers were not invited since the meeting was held in Spanish but were invited to share lunch with RELEC delegation. During RELEC meeting, the representative from Argentina, Olga Corna presented the Pro-Regional project. The ASAEC meeting also took place following to RELEC meeting.

The Metropolitana University, a private university offered special dinner in honor of the new American political Assessor in the Army- since the University has been offering a post graduate program on Strategy Plan for Peace and Security. Dr. Warkentin, as a guest speaker from Canada and myself as president of the Paraguayan Canadian Association were invited to represent Canada. Dr. Warkentin had the chance to meet some senators and some other politicians from our government during that occasion. It was a great opportunity for CPEC to express that Peace and Security is one of the priorities of the program “Understanding Canada”. 

The formal launch of the Congress took place at the Brazilian Embassy on the evening of September 17. Different personalities from different sectors, political, civil society, scholars, and Deans of various universities attended the opening. Beatriz Ventura from the Embassy, Dr. Warkentin, our guest note speaker from Memorial University, offered the initial speeches. I also welcomed all our guests.
During the opening the guests speakers were honored with our folklore dance accompanied by a local group of musician with Paraguayan music. After the opening the attendees could appreciate the exhibition of Indigenous theme, Amazonian Tribes, Aida Images, the culture of healing plants by Heather Shillinglaw from Alberta, Rosa Berardo, president of ABECAN Association, and Aníbal Manavella from Argentina.   

The congress took place at Gran Hotel del Paraguay, a very warming venue. The Multidisciplinary Topics addressed the various priorities of Understanding Canada programs, the rule of law, peace and security, development, human rights, environment, water projects and education.  The congress gathered around 150 attendees, university professors, educators, English Teachers, university students, civil society groups, and canadianists.

We had 17 speakers from Argentina, and the representative of the Canadian Embassy, four speakers from Canada, one doctoral student originally from Paraguay, four speakers from Mexico, two speakers from Brazil, one speaker from Chile, one from Colombia, one from Cuba and three speakers from Paraguay.Conferences, panels discussions, presentations and workshops were simultaneous so as a result of that some of them were more attended than others which will be taken into consideration for future congresses. 
Heather Shillinglaw conducted a workshop with children at a local school previous to the congress and during the congress. She demonstrated how to teach children to make art and the importance of teaching them about native plants and herbs, as they are a medicinal and cultural link to Canada. Some presenters and participants attended the workshop, observed and asked questions about the techniques of the implementation of teas and herbs and learned about the application of Heather´s artistic technique in layers.

Dinner offered in honor to Speakers and presenters.

Lunch  celebrating  the success of the congress, sharing time, developing friendship and brainstorming about future projects among the speakers and the board of CPEC.  

S e m i n a r s    h e l d   a f t e r    t h e    C o n g r e s s

After the congress Heather Shillinglaw stayed in Paraguay for a few more days to have the opportunity to meet with General office for Indigenous Education at the Ministry of Education and Culture.  Following the meeting Heather could spend time and work with an indigenous community School. She taught the students how to paint and appreciate Métis Art, and exchange Canadian and Paraguayan Stories and Legends about herbs.

Heather Shillinglaw’s art was exhibited after the congress for a couple of days at an art gallery Centro Cultural de la Ciudad Manzana de la Rivera located right across the Presidential Palace. The local people could have access to the exhibition.
Rosa Berardo´s photographs on Indigenous theme were exhibited at
one of the most important galleries in Asuncion as well, Museo del Barro for a whole month after  the congress sponsored by CPEC.

Dr. Robert Renaud from the University of Manitoba also stayed in Paraguay for a whole week after the congress to hold a seminar on how to conduct a research with Canadian Models at the Universidad Autónoma de Asunción to tutors of various private universities and National University.  He also gave a presentation at the Metropolitan University on  “How to think about Research“.

A Seminar on Fair Assessment to Professors of various fields, and to English Teachers, and University professors on “How to design Tests using Critical Thinking based on Canadian models at Stael Ruffinelli de Ortiz - English.
As a result of the congress followed by a series of seminars, CPEC became more feasible and arose more interests to professionals, civil society, students and artists toward Canada.