Pageantry has always been a crowd favourite here in Fair Helen and for St. Lucia’s 37th Independence anniversary, the Miss Independence Pageant promises to be all that and more. The event is among a host of activities to be held island-wide to commemorate this year’s Independence anniversary. Gregory Lorde is the organizer, having started the show ten years aback, conceptualizing the event and its theme. The pageant is dedicated to using the contestants as ambassadors to foster public awareness of values and principles of the Commonwealth such as empowerment, equality, equity, democracy, human rights, dialogue, cooperation and peace.
Lorde offered some insight into the vision behind the pageant saying, “In essence, what these values represent is respect, tolerance, advancement, self-confidence, understanding, communication and unity.” According to Lorde this innovative avenue of creativity, skills, talent, confidence and, of course, the intellect could represent hope, support and direction to our valuable contestants. “The theme for the 2016 pageant is ‘Human Rights – Let’s get it right’ ” he also informed the STAR.
One of the fundamental values and principles enshrined in the Harare Declaration of the Commonwealth Group of Countries, of which Saint Lucia is a party, is Human Rights. This, the organizers say, makes the theme quite apt for 2016. “This value leans on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, securing equal rights and protection for citizens regardless of race, colour, creed or political belief,” Lorde expressed.
Nine contestants will appear on the evening of the show, persuading citizens to freely cooperate in the pursuit of Human Rights. “Our contestants, in their dramatic speeches and talents, will captivate the audience as they individually personify the fundamental value of Human Rights,” said Lorde. The contestants are Akina Randolph, Lisa Eugene, Jessie Wilson, Edel Williams, J’hymani Joseph, Shontell David, Tara Gonzague, Theona Edan and Sherleon Eleuthere Delaire.
The STAR also spoke with Sharmack Leon who has been assisting with the planning of the event. “I play a supporting role in the pageant and assist in every way I can, such as co-coordinating the photo shoot. I am also decorating the stage on the day of the event and I coordinated the press launch as well,” Leon said.
Youth sensitization is another focal point of this year’s event. The desire, organizers say, is to make Saint Lucian youth aware of the value of Human Rights within our society, in addition to the need to be respectful, responsible and productive citizens. The event is carded for February 20 at the National Cultural Centre. On the night the contestants will deliver their ambassadorial speech on the theme and will also appear in eveningwear and partake in the interview segment. The reigning Miss Independence is Sheris Paul.