Out of the fourteen Honorary Consuls of Finland in Canada, Craig Ennis of St. John's, is closest to Finland - geographically at least. He is also the most recent as he was officially appointed in last December.
The easternmost province of Newfoundland and Labrador provides a fascinating opportunity for Finland. According to Honorary Consul, Mr. Craig Ennis, especially the Labrador part of the province has been exploding in growth, specifically the mining and hydroelectric energy that has been driving it.
"Companies are bringing in temporary foreign workers, and people are moving from Newfoundland to that part of the province to take advantage of some of the opportunities there", Craig Ennis describes.
The province has seen this development particularly during the last 10-15 years.
This has not gone unnoticed from the government of Finland. Especially when it comes to the arctic cooperation, the province’s importance as an economical and cooperative partner has grown notably.
This is one of the reasons why Finland appointed its very first honorary consul of Newfoundland and Labrador last year. Craig Ennis is the first one to hold this position in St. John's and adds up the total number of Finland's honorary consuls in Canada to fourteen.
"There are some 12 to 15 honorary consuls of other countries here in St. John's as it is capital of the province", Ennis says. And now there's also Finland represented.
Familiarity of the two lands
The Finnish community in St. John's and in the province is almost non-existent. The estimated number of people of Finnish origin or with connection to Finland in the province is around 200 hundred or less.
The importance of general consular duties is not significant, but it is there.
"A lady came by a few months ago and needed some documentation done and it was just easier for her that way, so I was happy to help", Ennis tells.
While doing research about Finland - its government, economics and industries - Ennis came across a lot of parallels between his home province and Finland. A lot of it seemed familiar to him and made him feel more comfortable about the duties at hand.
"The idea of clean energy, clean mining and product and technology innovation are things I have personal interest in and I know that our province and Finland also share this interest."
"Maybe there's a company in Finland and company here that really need to get together and share some information or some experiences. Trying to identify those opportunities will be the main part of what I am trying to do", Ennis explains.
Ennis was born near St. John's, in sister community of Mount Pearl. He has lived in St. John's for his whole life; except the time he spent in Halifax for his undergraduate studies and one and a half years he lived in Ottawa.
He is a public relations and communications professional.
Ennis' strengths as an honorary consul lie in his relationship to local city of St. John's, its businesses and government representatives. For example, he did his time as a part of the government as a bureaucrat.
"I have a fairly strong network here locally and now I am building a new network with people like the ones at the Embassy of Finland in Ottawa. The task of a honorary consul has encouraged me to go outside of my comfort zone and my network and go and try to build a new one and learn more about another country", Ennis says.
Though his relations to Finland were not strong ones prior to the process of becoming an honorary consul, Ennis now thinks highly of the honor.
"It's a privilege and a pleasure but also a responsibility. To make the experience of working, doing business or living here easier for people or companies in Finland who need information and contacts, that's where I need to dig in and help out."
Text: Miina Sillanpää, photo: Anni Ståhle
In this article series Kanadan Sanomat introduces Finland's 14 Honorary Consuls in Canada. In the previous articles we have already introduced consuls from Sault Ste. Marie, Halifax, Timmins, Saskatoon, Quebec, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary.
Still to come: Toronto, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Edmonton and Winnipeg.
Read the rest of the article from the issue #14 of Kanadan Sanomat.
Kanadan Sanomat provides English content in its every second issue.