Thousands of Canadians have studied in the United Kingdom. A film produced this year by the British Council Canada and the GREAT campaign celebrates that legacy by featuring interviews with prominent Canadians whose studies in the UK have ranged from economics to film-making.
Entitled The UK Experience, the 15-minute film will be shown at education fairs and film festivals, and will be officially launched in October at an Ottawa event hosted by the British High Commissioner to Canada, Dr. Andrew Pocock.
Canadians interviewed in the film include the Bank of Canada’s Governor Mark Carney, rugby legend Gareth Rees, and founder of War Child Canada Dr. Samantha Nutt. Musicians include classical pianist Angela Hewitt, organist and director of music Matthew Larkin and jazz singer Diane Nalina de Kerkhove – who is also a physicist. Other interviewees are Sheridan College’s professor of screenwriting Maureen McKeon, Carleton University professor of anthropology Louise de la Gorgondière, and gender and diversity specialist Meharoona Ghani.
“There are direct and very strong intellectual ties between the great universities in our two countries,” says Mark Carney, who met his British-born wife while studying in the UK. “I was fortunate to benefit from that.”
“We are delighted that so many prominent Canadians spoke to us about their time in the UK,” says Liliana Biglou, Director Canada for the British Council, the UK’s international organization for educational opportunities and cultural relations. “Their stories highlight the deep and long-lasting relationships between our countries and why we should continue to strengthen those ties,” she added.
British filmmaker Colin Izod, director of London-based Big Heart Media, travelled across Canada to interview the participants. He also visited the University of Oxford where he interviewed Rhodes scholars from several Canadian provinces.
Interviewees discussed the impact that their UK studies had on their lives and careers. For example, medical doctor Samantha Nutt, whose book Damned Nations was published in 2011, said that her year at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine profoundly changed the course of her professional career.
Themes in the film touched on the similarities and differences between Canadian and British cultures.
“The UK from a Canadian perspective is perhaps culturally the closest cousin that we have,” said Diane de Kerckhove. “But at the same time, there is enough cultural difference that you definitely feel that you are arriving in a foreign country when you first get there.”
Participants commented on the depth of connections between the countries. “The history of England and Canada – whether it’s through business, whether it’s through sport, whether it’s through culture – is long and ongoing,” said Canadian rugby legend Gareth Rees, now Rugby Canada’s national men’s program manager. “To use a rugby term, there is camaraderie there, an understanding of the cultures,” he added.
Organist and composer Matthew Larkin said that his time at the Royal College of Music in London shaped his music composition and his repertoire. “It’s a wonderfully spiritual feeling, as well as an artistic one, to be inheritors, if only for a small amount of time, of a tradition that is much greater than we are, much longer than we can possibly live and will certainly exceed our life spans,” he said.
For more information please refer to the British Council Canada’s website: www.britishcouncil.org/canada
Colin Izod, Big Heart Media