Photo taken in Johor Bahru – Lewis' hometown. Date unknown. Lewis (back row, fourth from the left) with his family. Source: Lena Horswill.
Anyone who worked in the international development field in Canada during the 1970s and 1980s would be familiar with the name Lewis Perinbam. However, with the dismantling of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), where Lewis spent most of his career, his legacy is becoming lost. Most of the documents describing Lewis’ achievements are found in archives and academic publications that are not accessible to all, which is why the goal of this project is to inform current and future generations of Lewis’ impact. Lewis was instrumental in fostering partnerships between Canada and the Global South, in making education more accessible to all and in creating opportunities for young people to become more involved in making our world a better place.
Born in 1925 in Johor Bahru (present-day Malaysia), Lewis Perinbam was sent to Scotland at the age of nine by his family in order to be educated. While in the UK, he started to work with the World University Service (WUS), a non-governmental organization established in the aftermath of the First World War to aid foreign students in need. In 1953, he was offered the opportunity to come to Canada and help develop the Canadian branch of WUS. In 1959, Lewis’ work at World University Services Canada (WUSC) earned him a job as Secretary General of the Canadian National Commission for UNESCO, where he continued to promote international cooperation amongst young people. Throughout his career in the public service, Lewis helped to establish the Canadian University Service Overseas (presently known as Cuso International) and served as the head of CIDA’s non-governmental organization program. Lewis was a mentor, an innovator and, as many of his acquaintances called him, “a connector.” We hope you enjoy this opportunity to get to know the legacy of Lewis Perinbam.
This project was generously sponsored by Mitacs and WUSC. We want to thank all of the participants who contributed to this project and helped bring it to life.