Robert White
Robert White
Assistant Director, Partnership Programs

On the ground in Brazil with the University of Manitoba


Our agenda is an ambitious one during the Canadian university presidents’ mission in Brazil, so we are trying to maximize every moment – fill the “unforgiving minute” with 60 seconds of distance run, as the saying goes.

And so it was on a bus ride from one stop to the next here in Brasilia, that I had a chance to speak with Jim Dean, the executive director of the University of Manitoba’s international office. Jim himself has squeezed in a lot on this trip. In addition to accompanying the University of Manitoba’s president David Barnard for certain portions of the mission, Jim had just joined us again after spending some time in Campo Grande, a city in the west of Brazil, visiting with one of the U of M’s partners, Dom Bosco Catholic University.

I had certainly been aware of this innovative initiative developed by these two universities – it is one among the 55 great active projects funded through AUCC’s Students for Development program, but it was nice to get an update from Jim on how things were progressing.

Their arrangement will see a total of 18 U of M students over the next three years spend up to six months working with the university and its community partner on social development amongst indigenous people in the Mato Grosso do Sul region of Brazil. The University of Manitoba will also be receiving Brazilian students over the same period to work on engagement with First Nations people in Manitoba.

In our chat on the bus, Jim spoke eloquently about the two universities’ commitment to the global effort to improve the lives of indigenous people. Manitoba’s project with Dom Bosco is yet another example of how Canadians and Brazilians can learn from each other and create alliances of shared purposes such as in this case, striving for social equality for indigenous populations.‪‬‬

There is no end to the fascinating ways Canadian universities are engaging with Brazilian partners through ever-deeper and stronger partnerships.


Small grants program has big impact


With the AUCC delegation having moved on to São Paulo, I stayed behind here in Rio to chair a panel at the conference of the Americas.

“Supporting research networks in the Americas” was the theme of the session with a focus on the AUCC’s Canada-Latin America and the Caribbean Research Exchange Grants, or LACREG, program. I started off with a spiel on how this great small grants program has funded over 200 joint research projects over the years bringing Canadian, Caribbean and Latin American minds together. It then turned into something of a master-class in the art of building research networks.

My co-panelists, Margareth Zanchetta from Ryerson University and her two Brazilian partners recounted how their first LACREG grant supporting a community health project eight years ago has acted like a catalyst leading to new partnerships and additional funding from diverse sources in Brazil and Canada.

One partner, Zeilma da Cunha from Universidade Estácio de Sá, for example, has leveraged the LACREG work and connections into a project funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research with researchers from Université du Québec à Montréal. Their other partner, Wilson Garcia from Universidade Estadual Paulista, explained how the grant support brought him to Toronto where he established links leading to new collaboration with the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children.

On top of all this, Ryerson students have participated in AUCC’s Students for Development program doing internships in Brazil with partner organizations linked to Margareth’s LACREG project.

The breadth of this project’s connections is a veritable best practice in consolidated international collaboration grown from small seed funding. I was happy to share the panel today with these passionate educators and be one more small connection in their growing network.


“How’s Brazil?”


The question came to me from a friend via email. Well, after my first day I could not say because I spent most of the time with my Brazilian hosts talking about Mozambique.

I was in Florianópolis in the south of Brazil visiting the marine aquaculture facilities at the Universidade Federal de Santa Caterina  which is working in partnership with the University of Victoria to improve aquaculture in Mozambique (the most populous Portuguese-speaking country in Africa).

Shrimp and fish farming research, techniques and production are all being developed at Mozambique’s Eduardo Mondlane University and the Ministry of Fisheries with the assistance of both Brazilian and Canadian faculty and technicians.

UVic, and in particular Dr. Jack Littlepage from the Centre for Global Studies, go a long way back here in Brazil. The world class operation in Florianópolis – the shellfish, shrimp and finfish laboratories and culture facilities – were developed over the course of many years with the assistance of UVic and through CIDA funding under AUCC´s University Partnerships in Cooperation and Development Program. These original projects built the capacity that laid the foundation for the work in Mozambique.

Manecas Baloi, graduate student at UFSC and Dr. Jack Littlepage, University of Victoria. © Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC)

As with many things in the Canada-Brazil relationship, the project in Africa represents an evolution – in this case from North-South cooperation to North-South-South. Brazil is a leader on many fronts – international development is yet another one.

As the day wrapped up, I stopped to look out east across the South Atlantic. As I admired the view, I started thinking of what’s on the other side of the sea from here and it occured to me, one answer to my friend’s question “How’s Brazil?” – well, it’s quite close to Africa.