After a year off due to COVID-19, the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) Awards were reinvigorated in 2021. The last two years have produced an outstanding number of nominations. After careful deliberations, the distinguished judges’ panel selected four worthy representing members from the Political, Trade, Immigration, and International Assistance streams of the Foreign Service.
This 31st year of the PAFSO Awards Program is exceptional in many ways. It tells the stories of Foreign Service officers who have stepped up during an extraordinarily challenging year, both to address the immediate crises presented by the pandemic while also exceeding at the ‘regular’ work of the Foreign Service under circumstances that were anything but normal.
It also represents the first time that Foreign Service officers in the recently added International Assistance stream (FSIA) have been eligible for nomination, as well as the first time that an FSIA colleague has received a PAFSO Award.
The recipients of the 2021 PAFSO Awards are:
Stéfanie Bergeron is an entry level foreign service officer serving her first assignment abroad in Bamako, Mali. Within her first year, she became an acting FS-3, working as Program Manager, Foreign Policy and Diplomacy.
By March of last year, after she had helped to repatriate a Canadian kidnapping victim, the Mission was forced to evacuate non-essential staff due to the pandemic. Stéfanie Bergeron became a one-person Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service section, often working through the night to help stranded Canadians to leave Mali.
In August, just days after a military coup d’état, she was asked to serve as Canada’s Chargée d’affaires during the ambassador’s absence. For the next six months, despite political uncertainty and armed conflict, she led and delivered on Canada’s priorities, at times with great personal risk. Working closely with her colleagues, locally engaged staff and the diplomatic community, she provided timely political analysis and advice on the coup.
She also advanced Canada’s consular, development and commercial interests in the region. And throughout, she was committed to the security of staff as they returned to work. Rarely in the history of the department has a junior officer served in such a senior position under such difficult circumstances. Stéfanie Bergeron provided outstanding diplomatic leadership and is an exceptional foreign service officer.
In a normal year, Robin Crowder’s role as the Manager of Assignments for the Workforce Management Division at IRCC’s International Network, is demanding. It matches people to assignments, acting as the hub for the professional development and personal well-being of every person in an FS position.
But this was no ordinary year. Starting in January, with the first outbreak of Covid-19 in mainland China, Robin was involved in the process of evacuating IRCC officers and their families. Everyone thought it would be temporary, lasting four to six weeks.
Robin Crowder managed one of the most challenging and constantly changing situations possible. As the pandemic spiraled and urgent requests multiplied around the globe, her team listened, adapted and offered solutions and next steps with every twist and turn. Throughout it all, her focus was on the safety of officers and their families.
From email updates to personal calls and video conferences, Robin’s often daily briefings kept everyone current, connected and calm. And even when there were literally hundreds online in a video call run from her basement, somehow, she made every single person feel cared for and supported. She fielded complex questions about everything from extended families and kids’ schooling, to homes, careers and colleagues. Her careful, empathic listening and above all – her humanity and honesty – inspired trust.
For a manager who finds the right person for every job, Robin Crowder herself was the best match possible. Her compassion and kindness, her wisdom and reassuring care has been a phenomenal service to IRCC and to Canada.
Francis Huot is an experienced Trade Commissioner. So, when he arrived in New Zealand, he quickly realized the market was different. He discovered the Maori economy was growing faster than any other sector of the New Zealand economy. Francis saw not only a growing market, but a way to tap into the under-represented area of direct Indigenous to Indigenous trade.
For Maori, effective business starts with a trusted relationship. Francis built those relationships, focused on mutual opportunities and sustainable trade. He became Canada’s go-to person within the Maori business community and the New Zealand government. He helped to organize a delegation of Indigenous businesses from Canada to participate at the World Indigenous Business Forum. It was the Canadian government’s first Indigenous trade mission, an opportunity to connect to more than 550 businesses and leaders.
Francis was involved in the launch of Indigi-X, a business exchange program for young indigenous professionals to build policy and trade networks. This private sector initiative is supported by both the Canadian and New Zealand high commissions.
Working with the New Zealand government, Francis also brought a delegation of Maori business leaders to Vancouver when Canada hosted the World Indigenous Business Forum in 2019.
Francis Huot is a program and policy pioneer. These strong foundations and networks will endure long after Francis Huot leaves his post.
PHEDRA MOON MORRIS
Phedra Moon Morris has always made things happen, even when they’re complex. In 2017 she began an assignment as Head of Aid at the High Commission of Canada in Bangladesh, prepared to manage development assistance.
But within days of her arrival, one million Rohingya surged across the border from Myanmar and Phedra Moon had to quickly pivot. Adjusting to the exodus of people fleeing genocide, she became their ally in a humanitarian crisis. With her vast network spanning missions and countries, Phedra Moon brought the right people together to create innovative solutions and to build consensus. She made recommendations, not only in support of Ottawa’s response to the crisis, but also to the foundation of Canada’s three-year strategy. This positioned Canada at the forefront of the international response. Phedra Moon became the go-to person within the diplomatic community.
Phedra Moon has also shown a resounding commitment to international accountability and justice for the Rohingya through her efforts to support Gambia’s case against Myanmar at the International Court. She personally ensured safe passage for refugee witnesses so they could testify at the Hague and made sure that an RCMP investigative mission to document statements at the camps went ahead, all this during the pandemic.
Phedra Moon Morris moves mountains – and sometimes the entire international community – in support of the world’s most vulnerable people. She is truly deserving of this year’s Award.
The members of the 2021 Panel of Judges were: Dr. Roland Paris (Chair), Ms. Anne Arnott, Mr. Bill Crosbie, Ms. Meredith Preston McGhie, Mr. Tom MacDonald, and Ms. Emmanuelle Latraverse.