The programme of activities marking the Celebration of Saint Lucia’s 38th Independence Anniversary covers the length and breadth of the country, catering to families, communities and local organisations.
At the Monday February 6th launch of the activities and the unveiling of the logo and theme, Minister in the Ministry for Equity, Social Justice, Empowerment, Youth Development, Housing, Urban Renewal, Transport and Civil Aviation Honourable Fortuna Belrose called on persons to engage in reflection on what this significant occasion means. Speaking from NTN Studios, the Minister also called on all Saint Lucians to embrace the activities and show their support for their homeland.
“As citizens of fair Helen, we must all be concerned about where our country is, where it is headed, and most importantly the role that we each must and can play in keeping it on track,” stated Minister Belrose.
Minister Belrose told the gathering that Independence is a time “when we put our differences aside, and focus, on the things that make us unique and hard core Lucian.”
“This year we have created an abundance of opportunities for you to engage, to learn and get the right orientation about us Lucians, about our history and our heritage as a people, so that you can truly evaluate where you are and rethink how you can become meaningfully involved in the development of your country.”
The Minister also noted two other important milestones for our country for 2017 which is the 50th anniversary of the flag which was designed by Dunstan St. Omer on the attainment of statehood in 1967 and the 50th anniversary of the elevation of Castries to a city.
Following the Minister’s opening remarks, Permanent Secretary in the department of Culture and Local Government Mr. Donovan Williams had the honour of unveiling the activities.
He announced that the theme chosen is “I Am Saint Lucia” and gave a justification.
“It should be one that engages people,” PS Williams said of the theme. “We also felt for the theme to be truly relevant it had to be a statement of intent and an opportunity to reflect and allow our people to give different perspectives on it . . . The point that it makes to all of us is one we should keep with us beyond this celebration but throughout the year. Ultimately Saint Lucia is what we, individually and collectively, make of it. So when we say ‘I Am Saint Lucia’ if we contribute to the positives, we will have a positive Saint Lucia, if we contribute to the negatives, we will have a negative Saint Lucia. The time is right for us to have a serious discussion and dialogue about what we want Saint Lucia to be.”
Mr. Williams explained that the Calendar of Activities distributed to the press was but a snapshot of the activities.
“We have been inundated with initiatives for inclusion,” said the Permanent Secretary. “The diversity of the activities is impressive, not just by the type of activities but because of where they are coming from. In an era where we have often spoken about being Castries and north-centric to ensuring that we span all of the regions in our country . . . this set of activities is very much representative of that.”
Like the Minister, PS Williams called for a high level of participation from citizens.
“We are what Saint Lucia is to be and so the theme ‘I am Saint Lucia’ must be part of how we look at Independence and how we engage more and more persons so that in the end it is the positive spirit that we bring to bear that will re-down to the benefit of our country Saint Lucia.”
The Permanent Secretary also thanked members of the Standing National Independence Advisory Committee (S.N.I.A.C.) for their hard work over the last few months.
Enthusiastic organizers of activities throughout the island then had the opportunity to present their exciting line-up. Among them were the several sporting activities which were highlighted by Tennyson Glasgow which includes a Table Tennis Championship, Independence Netball Tournament, National Sports Awards, Rugby Sevens Tournament, Invitational Football Tournament and more!
Members of the Drag Race fraternity were also on hand to speak of their activities as well as the Trail Finders Off Road Club and the Saint Lucia Moto X Club. The Northern Long Distance Walking Group invited persons to join them for the Independence Walk-a-thon which is a round the island walk which starts February 21st.
A special feature of this year’s activities will be “Prayer, Praise and Worship” Celebration which is hoping to bring together persons from all denominations on February 19th.
February 21st has officially been designated as National Colours Day and is also the day of the Independence Youth Exposé which is set for William Peter Boulevard. Other major activities include the Prime Minister’s Grand Independence Ball and an exciting new addition, “The Best of Saint Lucia”. The activities also stretch to end of February with the Beach Bash on February 26th and the Order of Saint Lucia Investiture Ceremony.
By the end of the launch it was clear that the activity calendar is jam-packed with so many other activities happening to mark the Nation’s 38th Independence.