Locals celebrate 53 years of Barbados independence

By Lincoln DePradine

Award recipient Cheryl Phillips with David Vaughn

One of the ideas Mia Mottley has been advocating since becoming Prime Minister of Barbados, in May 28, is getting Barbadians in Canada and other parts of the Diaspora to return to the Caribbean for a year-long celebration to reconnect with family and friends, and also to invest in the building and developing of the country.

Mottley reiterated the idea, dubbed “We Gatherin’ 2020’’, as she saluted Barbadians on the nation’s 53rd anniversary of independence.

“I look forward to seeing you in Barbados in 2020,’’ Prime Minister Mottley said in a message to Barbadian-Canadians, who held an “independence celebration fundraiser’’ last Saturday in Scarborough.

In the message, read at the event by Sonia Marville-Carter, the Barbadian consul general to Toronto, Mottley urged “all Barbadians and friends of Barbadians who live overseas’’, to direct their “thoughts and energy towards our vision 2020’’, by bringing to Barbados all their “skills, knowledge and other resources, tangible and intangible’’, and sharing them with everyone, including children and the marginalized.

Marville-Carter also commented on “We Gatherin’ 2020’’, saying in her own message to Saturday’s commemorative event, that next year’s initiative – which begins in January in St Lucy – “speaks directly to the efforts of all Barbadians, at home and abroad, coming together to ensure that the values, morals, infrastructure and systems that we have fought for as a people to bring us to 53 years of independence, can continue into the future for our children, grandchildren and generations to come’’.

Barbados, a former British colony, attained political independence on November 30, 1966, with Errol Barrow becoming the nation’s first prime minister.

Mottley, in a weekend independence message to nationals living in Barbados, reminded them of the 2020 celebrations, whose goal is to “show off our country to the world’’ and to display “the best’’ of what Barbados has to offer.

“It must be a genuine reflection of who and what we are, (and) what we stand for,’’ the 54-year-old prime minister said. “And our national finale in December will be the very epitome of Bajan excellence. That must be our pledge today — and every day going forward.’’

“Discover Barbados’’ was the title of the Toronto event, held at the Scarborough Convention Centre, and organized by recently formed Barbados Canada Association (BCA) in collaboration with the Barbados consulate general.

The association is “forged from the amalgamation of the Barbados Ball Canada Aid (BBCA) and the Barbados Independence Celebration Committee,’’ said BCA president Mark Hoyte.

“Our new organization combines the strengths of each group to build one team that will carry the momentum and vigour of both into the future,’’ he added. “We focus primarily on scholarships, donations to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Barbadian healthcare in general; as well as a contingency fund for disaster relief in the Caribbean.’’

According to Hoyte, “Barbados has an interesting and challenging future ahead’’, and he promised that members of the Diaspora “will play an important part in meeting these challenges’’.

The BCA used the occasion to present awards to Cheryl Phillips, Steve Kirton and Gloria Yarde – three long-serving volunteers that have been involved with the BBCA and the Barbados Independence Celebration Committee.

 “They have contributed so much to both organizations that we think it is perfect that we recognize them in all that they do,’’ said David Vaughn, a member of the organizing committee for the “Discover Barbados’’ independence anniversary event.

Vaughn said he also was appreciative of the “excellent support’’ and “excellent turnout’’ for Saturday’s activity.