Madame Ambassador, Élise Racicot, who is originally from Quebec, Canada, arrived in Portugal on the 29th of September 2022 and officially presented her credentials on 17 November 2022.
When asked about her transition from São Paulo, Brazil, where she was residing with her family, to Portugal, she shared that “The transition has been really good, coming from São Paulo, Brazil, to Portugal has been a nice segway and Portugal is the perfect mix of Brazil and Canada. There are a lot of similar values, especially from the part of Canada where I am from such as the sense of safety and family. I have found the Portuguese to be super welcoming to kids and everywhere we go our son is always made to feel welcome and to me as a mother, that has been a tremendous thing.”
Why is Portugal being sought after by Canadians?
The number of Canadians living in Portugal has risen over recent years, with Madame Ambassador detailing “I think there are a lot of similarities, in that, Canadians and Portuguese share similar values, such as being respectful of others as well as being welcoming, polite and quiet. I think all these factors make Canadians feel safe.”
The Ambassador highlighted that Portugal’s weather is sought after, adding that “We North Americans, really enjoy learning about heritage, even down to the cobblestone streets. I think we have a bit of that in some of our oldest cities but this is on a larger scale in Portugal. Portugal is also so well connected to Europe and other countries so it is really easy to use it as a place to discover the European continent further.”
Strengthening ties between Canada and Portugal
The Ambassador also shared “I would like to quote my colleague, the Portuguese Ambassador to Canada who recently said that “Portugal was the fourth largest destination for Canadians to visit”. The fact that we have daily flights that connect Canada to Portugal, makes for quite a lot of coverage which persuades people to come to Portugal and the weather, safety and being relatively inexpensive when compared to other European capitals makes Portugal really attractive.”
Further adding, “I also see beyond tourism, in Canada, we have what we call "snowbirds", who are retirees who spend part of the year in a warmer climate, my grandparents for example, would spend part of the year in Florida. I think the new generation of retirees who are my parents' age, really consider a place like Portugal because it is safer and because of the European charm.”
“I think the population is more travelled and more worldly in a way and therefore they are looking for an interesting place. The fact that we have almost half a million Portuguese descendants in Canada also helps to make sure we discover Portugal, in a way as most of us know people with a Portuguese background.”
“Another category of Canadians that Portugal is attracting is those in their 40s who have young kids and are entrepreneurs so they have enough wealth to relocate to Portugal as well as remote workers.”
Voting process for Canadians living in Portugal
Madame Ambassador encourages “Canadians who are here, even travelling or staying for some time or establishing themselves here to register to our consular registry. It serves all kinds of purposes including emergencies and it is an important way to stay in touch and to let Canadian authorities know how to contact you.”
As for the voting process, it is a fairly straightforward process, “Canadian citizens who live abroad may apply to be on the International Register of Electors, which will allow them to vote by mail in special ballot in Federal General Elections, By-Elections and Referendums. Please visit www.elections.ca for more information. Alternatively, Canadians can opt to visit the Canadian Embassy and we can guide them.”
Hopes for the future
Madame Ambassador affirmed that she is working on tackling the impacts of climate change. “I certainly hope that for my son's generation, we find ways to tackle the impacts of climate change so we make a world we can continue to live on. We definitely focus on the ocean here in Portugal as I think there is a need to be more ambitious when it comes to the oceans and finding ways to protect our seas.
"I also hope for a peaceful world, so we work really closely on joined initiatives with the Navy as both Canada and Portugal are founding members of NATO, so we do try to deter any possible threats." Lastly, the Ambassador highlighted her focus on diversity and inclusion, when she told The Portugal News “I think it is very important to make sure that everyone has the same rights and Portugal is a good ally in that way.”