Welcome to the Advancing Canada Coalition

We are a group of Canadianists committed to advancing the study of Canada around the world

We call on the Government of Canada to reinstate its support for Canadian Studies abroad

 Coalition Leaders > Margaret Atwood CC > Daniel Béland > Robert Bothwell CM > Senator  Peter M.  Boehm > Laura Dawson > Munroe Eagles > John English OC > Louise Frechette OC > Alain-G Gagnon > Graeme Gibson  CM > John Graham > Lawrence Hill CM > Margaret MacMillan CC CH > Nik Nanos > Chris Sands > Jane Urquhart OC

Find out more about coalition leaders

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If you agree that we need to support Canadian studies abroad, post your support on twitter and tag @justintrudeau, @cafreeland, @bill_morneau, @advancingcanada

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An open letter to the Prime Minister of Canada


February 1, 2019

Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister of Canada

The Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council 

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing on behalf of the Advancing Canada Coalition, a volunteer group of Canadianists committed to advancing multilateralism and a better understanding of Canada around the world. We would like the government to create a program, modeled on the previous Understanding Canada Program, to increase the number of people who know and can advocate for Canada abroad.

The previous Understanding Canada program successfully created a network of 7,000 scholars and thought-leaders in 55 countries and advanced an understanding of the Canadian approach to such issues such as culture, trade, security, prosperity, gender equality and the environment. 

The program achieved this by disseminating information about Canada and supporting Canadian studies and related programs in universities around the world. These programs created a cohort of academics and individuals who could speak about Canada and the Canadian Experience to international media and governments, strengthening relationships by nurturing understanding and trust. For a very modest budget, the Understanding Canada program had a significant impact.

We believe that the Government of Canada should play a key role in advancing an understanding of Canada around the world through education, research and cultural diplomacy. 

Our proposal

Such a program would be relevant to the current world environment within which Canada finds itself.  The new expanded program could seek the following objectives.

  1. Create a Cohort of Thought-leaders with an Understanding of Canada - Consistent with the previous program, the focus should be on high-quality scholarship, which advances thoughtful and relevant dialogue on Canada and its place in the world.  The program funding would be seen as a vehicle to advance dialogue and scholarly research on Canada among academics and thought leaders who would be natural topic experts accessible to not only the Canadian government but governments around the world and media covering developments in Canada.
  2. Incite the Thought-leaders to actively promote Canada –The program will help fund Canada-focused dialogue and academic scholarship aligned with issues of concern to Canadians and citizens in other countries including but not limited to: international trade, defense and security, culture, literature, the environment and natural resource issues, democratic renewal and gender/diversity issues. 
  3. Advance Collaborative Scholarship and Dialogue with a New Canada-focused Virtual Think Tank – This would include placing more emphasis on a collegial experience and a new virtual space focused on Canada and its place in the world and a proactive social media presence.  The program could include a virtual platform to share research and literature among program funding recipients on Canada and to be an independent, evidence-based resource, which will be the international, go-to, source for understanding Canada.

This approach would involve building a program which incorporates the previous core Understanding Canada program, but which is enhanced to be more global in scope, which better leverages technology and social dialogue.  We expect that this new and exciting initiative could be launched for a modest investment of about $8 to $10M Canadian.

We believe this program would strengthen knowledge of Canada and its values abroad and our important role in an ever-changing world.

As you continue your deliberations on the federal budget, we believe that this is a very worthy initiative to support. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at nik@nanos.co or 613.234.4666 x237.

Thank you, in advance, for your consideration in this matter.



Nik Nanos


cc.  Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs

        Hon. Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance