By Gerald V. Paul
Antigua and Barbuda’s Information Minister Melford Nicholas, speaking on the theme ” building an economic powerhouse together,” called on fellow nationals in Toronto to pursue excellence for its own sake and make it their daily commitment.
In the keynote address at a gala on Saturday night to celebrate Antigua and Barbuda’s 35th anniversary of independence, Nicholas, who is also Minister of Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Information Technology, said the vision (of an economic powerhouse) calls for training, discipline, determination and risk-taking .
Nicholas, who came to office as a 25- year telecommunications veteran, told his audience of plans to move the operations of the government of Antigua and Barbuda “from a paper-driven bureaucracy to an e-government platform.”
He said he was tasked with the objective of bringing to parliament a new telecommunications bill “that will see the establishment of an independent Regulatory Telecommunications Commission ” in Antigua and Barbuda.
Stating that the Antiguan and Barbudan diaspora was a ” critical component” in the continued growth of the nation, announced that the Consulate General in Toronto will launch its skills database online in 2017.
With the setting up of the database, nationals of Antigua and Barbuda across Canada can list their skills online and provide information about their interest ” in volunteering in specific areas in Antigua and Barbuda.”
Consul General Ann Marie Layne told fellow nationals that if Antigua and Barbuda’s vision of nation building is to be realized. the country would need ” the commitment and support of all her sons and daughters.”
“We must seek new and alternative areas for economic growth and become more competitive in the global economy. We must also encourage our young people to become entrepreneurs, particularly in the areas of innovation and information and communications technologies, ” she told them.
Referring to the Information Minister’s address, Yvonne James, president of the Antigua and Barbuda Association of Toronto (ABAT) which hosted the gala , said the theme – ” building an economic powerhouse together” – ” is a call to transform the abstract notions of pride and hope, into concrete acts of building prosperity for the next generation of our nation’s Independence.”
“National pride fosters growth and hope for the future of our country is built when citizens have a unity of purpose,” she added.
At the gala, three member of ABAT were presented with awards and two university students received scholarships.
Sylvester Williams was presented with the Novelle H. Richards Award in absentia,
( Richards, a statesman , author and politician, composed the lyrics of Antigua and Barbuda`s national anthem. )
Marie Marsh received the Joe Reid Award.
(Reid was a longtime member of ABAT.)
And Auguss Henry was presented with the President`s Cup.
The scholarships went to Ashiyah Abbot, a York University student pursuing an international BA in trilingual psychology, and Seana William who is in the contemporary arts programme at Simon Fraser University.