Online-Exclusive: Where in the World? | UNB
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Fall 2021

Online-exclusive: Where in the World?


Chris (BscF'92) and Tanya (BA'92) Cox 

Where are you from and why did you choose to study at UNB?

CHRIS: I was born in Canada but moved with my family to Saint Lucia, my dad’s home, when I was very young and spent the rest of my life there. I wound up at UNB to pursue an undergraduate degree in forest resources management by way of a CIDA scholarship through a forestry development programme with the Saint Lucia Department of Forestry. At the time I was working as a junior technical officer in the Department. A big reason why I ended up working in the field of environment was because of my early passion for depicting the beauty of nature in my art!

TANYA: I'm kind of a third-culture kid because I spent my early childhood in Venezuela, but I consider Ottawa my hometown since I grew up there. I chose to study at UNB because I've always considered Fredericton my second home. My mother is originally from Fredericton, and I spent many summers visiting family there. It just felt like the natural choice. Plus, my father and uncles went to UNB so I was continuing the family tradition. Our son, Jason is currently an engineering student at UNB as well.

Where are you living now and how long have you been there? 

CHRIS: I work for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and am stationed in Panama City, Panama, since the middle of 2019. 

TANYA: I'm a trailing spouse, following my husband around the globe wherever he is posted.

What was your first job after graduation? 

CHRIS: After graduation and marrying Tanya in 1992, we moved to Saint Lucia where I resumed work with the forestry department. 

TANYA: My first job after graduation was teaching at an all-girls convent in Saint Lucia.

How did you get from there to where you are today? Are there other places you’ve lived and worked around the world? 

CHRIS: I remained with the forestry department and the Ministry of Agriculture for 14 years. In between that time, we moved as a family to Montreal so that I could pursue graduate studies in land and water resources management with McGill University. In 2006, I joined the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute where I worked for eight years. The agency was based in Saint Lucia, but my job took me throughout the Caribbean and other parts of the world on missions to work with partners and learn from others in efforts to conserve land and water resources and reduce pollution. In 2014, I joined the United Nations Environment Program and was posted at their headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya headquarters. It really was a life-changing experience living so far away from home and in a wholly new culture. Working with a global community of professionals expanded my horizons as I got to interact with many cultures in the work environment but also the first-hand experiences visiting and collaborating with colleagues across the globe.  

TANYA: I spent the next 20 years working full time and raising three children in Saint Lucia. In 2014 while Chris was initially posted with UNEP in Nairobi, I stayed back with our children so that they could finish the school year, and we eventually joined Chris six months later. We lived in Nairobi for four years and it was an incredible experience. Our children went to an amazing school, and I kept myself busy volunteering at the school. Most of the student population were from expat families so there were many activities centred around community building and socializing with other parents. We also had the opportunity to do some travelling in and around Kenya. The highlights of our time in Kenya were going on safari in the Maasai Mara and vacationing in the beautiful coastal town of Lamu on the Indian Ocean.

Is your current career path as you originally intended? What challenges have you faced throughout your career? 

CHRIS: I think I knew from when I first joined the Forestry Department all these years ago that I found my calling in the field of environment.  I had a yearning for seeing and experiencing the world that grew as I continued along with my career.  We collaborated with many regional and international organizations and found the experiences personally enriching and inspired my career direction beyond the shores of my small Caribbean Island home.  From a small island state perspective, we clearly have challenges to address, particularly how we help communities and society at large weather the already-felt effects of climate change.  This remains a key aim of my current work and there is much to do!

TANYA:  I never really had a career path planned out as my primary focus was raising our kids and managing the household. Now that the kids are grown I have been able to restart an art merchandising business Chris and I used to manage in Saint Lucia about 10 years ago. We had to give it up when we moved overseas but since the beginning of the pandemic, I've been building an online eCommerce shop with print-on-demand products like t-shirts, beach bags, mugs etc. Ajayla Creative ( is my apparel and accessories brand.

What have you learned on your journey so far?

CHRIS: I have learned to keep an open mind and respect diversity. Nothing teaches you better than lived experience; to see and experience first-hand.  The world is a big place and so varied, as are the cultures and I’m glad that we embarked on this great family adventure.

TANYA: I've learned that I'm a lot stronger and more resilient than I give myself credit for. Saint Lucia is a great vacation destination but living there wasn't always easy. Living in developing nations for most of my adult life has made me realize that we take so much for granted in the developed world. 

What do you love most about where you are and what you do?  

CHRIS: Panama is a beautiful country that straddles the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean and abounds with nature close at hand, so plenty of inspiration for my art! Being in a Spanish-speaking country is testing our language skills but as they say, poco-a-poco!   

TANYA: Before moving to Panama I knew little about it except for the Panama Canal. But Panama has grown on me, and I’ve learned so much about the country’s history and culture. And it’s been a great opportunity to brush up on my rusty Spanish. The tropical weather is very similar to Saint Lucia in that there are two seasons, rainy and dry, but thankfully there are no hurricanes! Panama City has the big city feel that I love with the shopping, dining and nightlife. We live in a great neighbourhood in the suburbs that's close to parks and nature reserves and only five minutes from the famous Panama Canal.

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