Interview: Ambassador Wanja Campos da Nóbrega Consul General of Brazil in Toronto

Translated and edited by Rosemary Baptista, CILISAT certified translator

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Ambassador Wanja Campos da Nóbrega, now with the mission to head the Consulate General of Brazil in Toronto

It is with great excitement and honour that the Consulate General of Brazil in Toronto welcomes back Ambassador Wanja Campos da Nóbrega as the new Consul General. Since entering her diplomatic career in 1984, Wanja has held several diplomatic positions, both in Brazil and abroad; Deputy Consul in Paris; employee at the Brazilian Embassy in Algiers; served as First Secretary and Consul in Washington; and was appointed Deputy Consul at the Consulate General of Brazil in Toronto in 2006. During her leadership as the Head of the Trade Promotion Sector (SECOM), her accomplishments in this role was exceptional creating an escalated leap into the bilateral trade between Brazil and Canada, which changed dramatically from US $2 billion to more than US $20 billion. This helped consolidate important markets such as the Brazilian food and drinks. Wanja left Canada in 2013 to undertake the position of Ambassador, as the Brazilian representation in the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Finally, after a few years as Consul General in Mexico City, Wanja Campos da Nóbrega returns to Toronto on a mission of leading the Consulate General of Brazil.

Wave – In the last interview you gave to Brazilian Wave, we asked what message you would leave to our readers. You cited the quote by the Lebanese poet Gibran Kalil Gibran: “Remembrance is a form of meeting”. How does it feel for the Brazilian Wanja to return to Toronto, as Consul General now?

Wanja – First of all, it is an honour to have been entrusted in the appointment as the Consul General of Brazil in Toronto by the elected President of the Republic. It is also a great pleasure and joy to return to this dynamic and hospitable city. On a second note, I am conscientious of the great challenges lying ahead of me to provide service to approximately 90 thousand Brazilian nationals as estimated by the Consulate General, who chose this area of Canada to live, study, and work. I am determined to provide good services to our community and embrace this mission with humility. Canada has evolved since my departure; just as Brazil revels in a new era, the challenges that I will encounter now will be very different from what we experienced 10 years ago.

Wave – “If we go back to normal it is because the death of thousands of people was worthless,” wrote the Brazilian indigenous leader Ailton Krenak. How do you see the world after the crisis caused by the pandemic?

Wanja – One of the great advantages of human beings are their abilities to adapt to new situations and their resilience to adversity. We have to learn from the lessons of the pandemic, to revere the dead, to greet the survivors, to thank the professionals who sacrificed so much and to seek social, familial, political and economic accommodations that reflect this new occasion. All of this, of course, will require patience, discipline and respect for the rules ceratinly issued by the governments.

Wave – With the difficulties of employment and income in Brazil and the barriers imposed by the current US government, there are great expectations that, once international travel normalizes, Canada will be the destination for thousands of Brazilians. What would you say to Brazilians who want to live in Canada?

Wanja – I believe that at this time, more than ever, will require a lot of caution and planning from the part of Brazilians. Rushed, and unplanned decisions can lead to frustration, disappointment and significant losses. Canada excels in making official information available on the internet on various disciplines; thus, avoiding a single source of information (often partial and / or personal), but taking advantage of the transparency of official information and the abundance of professional communication will bring benefits to better organize and prepare for a possible new life.

On a second note, I would like to take this opportunity to advise that the Consulate General of Brazil in Toronto has been aware of cases of foreigners that were inadmissable to Canada – including Brazilians – who are required to remain at the airport, and board the first flight back to their country of origin . It is important to remind Brazilian travelers that Canada is still in a state of medical emergency and that the exceptions provided by law for the entry of foreigners are restrictive. Travel considered non-essential is not allowed, even for holders of appropriate visas (study, work). In these inadmissable type cases, the Consulate has no authority to intervene and our action is limited to guaranteeing dignified treatment for Brazilian citizens who are prevented from entering the country. The Immigration Officer’s decision is sovereign, in accordance with international conventions, and a visa does not guarantee entry.

We strongly recommend that travelers to Canada ensure that they have all the qualifications required for entry into the country fulfilled, including a 14-day quarantine plan upon arrival at their destination. When I entered this country, although I hold a diplomatic visa, I was obligated to present a quarantine plan, which was strictly fulfilled. The Canadian government provides up-to-date information on this topic: www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-covid19/visitors-foreign-workers-students.html (For direct access to this link, please visit this article online at Brazilianwave.org).

Wave – Although this virus is resistant, everything indicates that, soon, we will have vaccines against this infectious disease. This will be the largest logistical challenge ever faced by health agencies. Will there be any protocol for the Consulate General to participate with the Canadian government in immunizing Brazilians living in the country?

Wanja – I believe that it is still too early to speculate on protocol and / or participation of the Consulate General in a future process in this area, but, certainly, the arrival of a reliable and effective vaccine against coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) will be the cause for celebration for all the nations around the world. In regards to Canada, it will be up to the country’s health authorities to determine which protocols will have to be observed in a potential vaccination campaign, of which, we will be fully compliant.

Wave – With the experience you have acquired in recent years, as Consul General and Ambassador, what are the main goals that you have for the Consulate General of Toronto?

Wanja – I realize that the growth of the Brazilian community in the area of ​​Toronto’s consular jurisdiction – that is, Ontario, Manitoba, and Nunavut – requires to work in harmony with community associations and governmental and non-governmental organizations. The ideal is to seek better integration and greater inclusion among the diverse universe of our Brazilian community, and because it is precisely diverse, this enriches our presence in Canada. I believe, that both myself and the entire Consulate General Team, made up of two other diplomats, five officers, and a chancellery assistant and sixteen more consular agents, are qualified and professionally trained to meet the demands of our community and expand entrepreneurial opportunities for the business sector.

Wave – After passing through the Consulate General, many changes were introduced over the years. Among them, the new Brazilian Citizenship Council of Ontario. The Council acts on several fronts with democracy and greater visibility. What is the ambassador’s expectation from the Council and what can be improved in their interaction with the consular’s representation?

Wanja – According to the assessment of my predecessor and friend, Ambassador Ana Beltrame, the experience of CONCID is extremely positive for the Consulate and for Brazil-Canada relations in general. The current Council, coordinated by Arnon Melo, is highly qualified and has excellent interaction with the community in general, the business community and the Canadian government, at all levels and spheres. I have heard excellent references to the wonderful work they do, and therefore I am very excited to meet the other members of the Council. In my opinion, the consolidation of entities representing the Brazilian community is very positive to encourage the inclusion of Brazilian residents, students and tourists in Canada.

Wave – During the past six years, you have conquered many friends and certainly, you will gain many more. Finally, what is your final word to all Brazilians and all Brazilian women living under the jurisdiction of the Consulate General of Brazil in Toronto.

Wanja – As a diplomat and public servant, I am very excited to serve Brazilians living in Canada once again, and reconnect with the Brazilian-Canadian business community, whose economic and commercial relations date back to centuries ago. In this context, I intend to stimulate the growing commercial-business relationship, support our community, encourage a healthy and mutually beneficial business environment.

Thank you.