By Lincoln DePradine
Grenada is “on an upward trend’’ and Grenadian nationals in Canada and other parts of the diaspora should “recommit’’ to the nation’s further development, Kate Lewis, Grenada’s minister in the ministry of youth development, sports, culture and arts, said last Saturday in Toronto.
“I encourage you to continue making sterling contributions to your homeland,’’ Lewis said in the keynote address at a gala commemorating the 45th anniversary of the independence of the tri-island State of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
Grenada attained independence from Britain on February 7, 1974.
A former school teacher, Lewis,36, entered frontline politics in September 2017 when she was appointed to the senate by Prime Minister Keith Mitchell. Six months later, she won a seat in the Parish of St Andrew in the New National Party’s 15-0 clean sweep in the general elections and was appointed to the ministry of youth development, sports, culture and the arts.
“It has been a challenging one,’’ Lewis told The Caribbean Camera, in describing her near one-year long experience as Grenada’s minister with responsibility for youth development.
“It has its good times and its bad times, but it’s rewarding. What is important is working with young people within the ministry of youth, helping them to achieve their goals. It is rewarding because you’re helping them to reach their fullest potential.’’
Grenada is progressing “extremely well’’, said Lewis, who was visiting Canada for the first time as a government minister..
“There are some challenges that we have to overcome but, thus far, we have been doing well.’’
Hundreds of Grenadian residents of Toronto attended Saturday’s gala organized by the Grenada Association (Toronto).Also present were Grenadians from other Canadian cities as well as representatives of local community organizations and diplomats from various Caribbean countries.
“We are proud that we are part of a dynamic community here in Toronto that puts nation building at the forefront,’’ said Grenada Association president Sandra Pierre, who presented scholarship awards to students Shinique Solomon and Victoria Young.
Several other awards were presented at the gala.
For volunteer service, Joyce Billy Griffith and husband and wife, Jerry and Pansy Ross received community awards.
And “special awards” were presented to former consul general Jenny Gumbs, to dental hygienist Vanessa Felix Alexis, and to Sheridan Cyrus Dentistry.
Derrick James, Grenada’s consul general in Toronto, also unveiled a plaque which will be displayed at the consular office on Eglinton Avenue East, honouring all previous consuls general.
“The contributions you make, as nationals living abroad, cannot be underestimated. I commend your patriotism and the selfless efforts you make from afar, to contribute to the continued growth and development of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique,’’ Lewis told the audience that included visiting performers from Spyce Island Dancers; as well as former Band Master of the Royal Grenada Police Force, saxophonist Bryan Hurst; Groovy Soca Monarch, Dash; and Ajamu, a nine-time Calypso Monarch of Grenada.
“ Our past is littered with political and economic challenges, but the trajectory of development has been on an upward trend in recent years and we must continue the process of enhancing our social and economic transformation,’’ she added.
Lewis also noted that “initiatives being undertaken, with respect to climate-change adaptation and building resilience, can only help to further promote our advancement. Additionally, the peace and stability for which we are well-known are critical factors in the overall equation for national development,’’ said Lewis.
The “underlying goal’’ of every Grenadian always should be to make the country “a better place’’, and “to keep the Grenada flag flying high’’, she told fellow nationals.