Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Canada were established on 25 June 2003.
The two countries enjoy warm and cordial relations that date back to the initiatives of the Canadian Jesuits in the 1960s. Canadian Jesuits were responsible for opening some of Bhutan’s premier educational institutions such as Kanglung and Khaling High Schools in Trashigang and Punakha High School. Most notable among the Canadian Jesuits was Late Father William Mackey, who made significant contributions to Bhutan’s education sector from October 1963 till he passed away on 18 October 1995. Father Mackey and his colleagues had set the stage for the long and friendly relationship that has developed today.
H.E. Ms. Doma Tshering, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission Of Bhutan to the United Nations in New York, is accredited to Canada and H.E. Mr. Nadir Patel, Ambassador of Canada to India has completed his tenure in June 2021 and new Ambassador is yet to be appointed. Ambassador of Canada to India is concurrently accredited to Bhutan.
Canadian assistance to Bhutan has mainly been in the education sector through the training of Bhutanese teachers and educationists at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). Many Bhutanese teachers availed studies in Canada under the World University Service of Canada (WUSC), which had an office in Bhutan from 1985 to 1991. Following the closure of WUSC in 1991, the Canadian Cooperation Office (CCO), was opened in July 1992. The RGoB implemented 319 long and short-term training and study programmes in Canada under Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and various other programs. The CCO office in Thimphu was closed on 31 December 2008, which marked the end of CIDA programmes in Bhutan. Following the closure of CCO, the RGoB approved the opening of the Bhutan-Canada Foundation (BCF) in January 2009, with Ms. Nancy Strickland as the Executive Director. The primary objective of the foundation is to assist the RGoB in its ‘continued quest for education excellence’. Ms. Nancy Stickland retired from the BCF on 21 December 2016 and Mr. Karma Tshering was appointed as the Field Director for BCF in May 2017.
The signing of an MoU between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada in December 2018 paved a pathway for the two countries to hold biennial meetings to review bilateral relations and to exchange views on regional and international issues of common interest.
Subsequently, the first biennial bilateral consultations between the two countries was held on 25 November 2019 in Thimphu. The two sides discussed and explored collaboration in areas covering Agriculture, Health, Education, Mining, Tax Reform, TVET, Environment and Climate Change.