The Diplomatic Society

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20 August 2018

    High Commissioner McCardell with Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau

DS: Last country where you were based before coming to South Africa

HE: Morocco

DS: Most interesting place in South Africa

HE: There are so many places in South Africa which are fascinating for the people, the nature or both!  One of them is definitely Madikwe, where we had our first family holiday after arriving in South Africa.  The scenery and the animals were magnificent!

    At Madikwe

DS: Your impression about South Africa

HE: Again, after three years here I have many! But one that has stood out from my arrival to now is how much this country has accomplished since its democracy. South Africans are impatient for more change and justifiably aspire to more for their country.  But sometimes it is worthwhile to step back, look at the past and present, and marvel at how much has been done in just a couple of decades.

    High Commissioner McCardell with firefighters in South Africa

DS: One place you would like to be posted to or visit

HE: Latin America! I have never visited and would love to. Great history and way of living.

DS: Most memorable appointment thus far

HE: I was Ambassador of Canada to Libya from 2009 to 2011. I arrived in Libya, a few days before the 40th anniversary of Gaddafi’s rise to power and returned to re-open our embassy after his fall. A difficult but very memorable appointment.

   In Libya

DS: Most challenging situation that you had to handle thus far

HE: Without doubt, the 2011 Revolution in Libya. We closed our embassy in February; my family and I abandoned our home and all our possessions; and then I managed the evacuation of Canadian citizens from Malta. I returned in August 2011 to re-open our embassy and bring back our local employees.

DS: My inspiration is/comes from.

HE: My fascination with the world and my love of learning.  Every day that I learn something new, I’m happy.  Fortunately, as a High Commissioner, and certainly in South Africa, you never run out of things to learn!

DS: Place in your country that you love to visit.

HE: The Rocky Mountains. My family is from Western Canada – British Columbia, while I grew up in Alberta.  The mountains are always magnificent.  I visited a few weeks ago, and fell in love with the region again.       

DSMost interesting place to visit elsewhere

HE: This would be a long list!  Among the many interesting places, I would recommend my former home, Morocco.  The country enjoys every landscape – from mountains to sea to desert.  The art is stunning and the food delicious.  Chefchaouen is painted a beautiful blue, Tangiers has the influence of Spain, Fez is home to one of the oldest universities, Essaouira is known for surfing, and, of course, Marrakesh is world-renowned.

    In Chefchaouen

DS: Favourite dish of your country

HE:  As a country of immigrants, we think every dish is ours!  Traditional Canadian ingredients include maple syrup, salmon, and berries but we are very well-known for the quality of our beef and pork.  Come and discover!           

DSTastiest dish of another country.

HE: So difficult!  I was posted in the Middle East, and have a great love of mezze, which is a series of small appetizer dishes.  I’ll cheat a little and pick all of them as the tastiest!

DS: My favourite book is...

HE: A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  I love magical realism, with its natural and seamless mix of the real and the fantastical.  Another reason I should visit Latin America!   

DS: At the moment I am reading

HE: I just finished 'Always Another Country' by Sisonke Msimang.  She is a South African, daughter of Struggle activist, who grew up in exile including Canada.  A great read about identity and finding your voice.


DSI enjoy listening to……   

HE: Whatever my kids are playing!  I have two teenage sons who keep me updated with the latest sounds.  One likes hip-hop and rap, the other electronic dance music.  I get it all.

DS: I spend my leisure time

HE: What leisure time?!  I am High Commissioner but also Mom to three kids.  Ask me about leisure time when I retire.

DS: One sentence describing a lesson that you have learnt from being a diplomat

HE: Learn from others.  No-one, no country has all the answers.  We are all trying to find our way and to provide the best life for our communities.  Learn from the best, and pass on your lessons – good and bad -- to others.




February/March 2020








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