Trinidad and Tobago will only rise if we lift it up

Acting Consul General Tracey Ramsubagh-Mannette, Consulate General of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago speaking in Ajax at the flag raising celebrating 60 years of Independence

Tracey Ramsubgh-Mannette Consul General

At the outset, I would like to thank the organizers of this flag raising and cultural show in Ajax, the TT 50 Plus and Seniors Association, the Durham Independence Committee and the Trinidad and Tobago Heritage Committee, and all the volunteers, performers and sponsors who have contributed or donated their time and expertise in some way to this showcase of Trinidad and Tobago’s vibrant culture. I would also like to thank the City of Ajax and the St. Nedela’s church for being our kind host.  

Turning 60 is special. And when you attain a milestone such as this, even in our personal lives, it’s usually okay to get a bit reflective or even a little nostalgic.

If I were to do a poll right now and ask you to tell me what you think our greatest achievement has been over the past 60 years, I’d probably get quite a variety of responses.

For some of you, what stands out is our sporting achievements in cricket, football, athletics and everything in between. 

For others, it might be our vibrant cultural heritage and cultural assets. We are talking here about Carnival, steelpan, calypso, soca music, chutney music and so many other gifts that we have given the world and brought us acclaim.

If yuh always studying yuh belly like me, you might talk about our cuisine, which blends delights from around the world to create truly distinctive flavors generated by the diversity of our people.

Looking at your beautiful faces, a case could be made that our biggest achievement is that we damn good looking and it probably goes without saying but we accent sweet too bad too.

There is really no right or wrong answer here but I can tell you that from the perspective of the Consulate, there is an answer that is “righter” than others and that is that our greatest achievement is…you. Our people drive our excellence. You the mas man, you the pan player, you the calypsonian, you the innovative businessperson looking for ways to get our brands on the shelves, you the doublesman, you the new immigrant working hard and taking care of family back at home….

For us, turning 60 summons us to convey our appreciation to the countless number of our citizens who have helped Trinidad and Tobago to become a great nation with impact that transcends our own boundaries. In that light, we owe a debt of gratitude to our entire diaspora and I might be biased when I say this but particularly those in Canada. There can be no praise too great for the ways in which you not only adjusted to a new place by demonstrating resilience, imagination, industry and determination, but in so doing have flown Trinidad and Tobago’s flag high. You have been and continue to be that bridge between our two countries, our truest brand Ambassadors, our strongest advocates. Today, because of you, the history of Canada cannot be written without special mention of Trinidad and Tobago as a vital partner that has produced so many who make invaluable contributions across all spheres in this country.

After 60 years of standing on our own, how do we as a nation continue to harness our strengths to become greater still?  Well that roadmap was laid out for us at the beginning of our independence journey. In 1962, Dr. Eric Williams delivered an Independence address to the nation where he said: “The strength of the nation depends on the strength of its citizens.” Note well, he did not say our strength depends on the strength of just one citizen. All citizens of our rainbow nation are required. All Trinbagonians of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities…Afro-Trinbagonians, Indo-Trinbagonians, descendants of the First Peoples, Chinese, Syrian, Lebanese immigrants, persons of European background, persons of blended ancestry…we are all now one and all valuable and necessary to achieve the full potential of our nation. We are a tough, courageous, purposeful and determined people. We have proven over and over again in our sixty years that we are equal to any task, once we put our collective minds to it. Together We Aspire, Together We Achieve…the words of our national motto when examined closely are both a challenge and a promise to Trinbagonians at home and abroad. As we celebrate our 60th anniversary as a nation, let us individually recommit to building the Independence Project, which was never meant to be a single act, but many small and continuous actions towards the realization of our own manifest destiny. Let us each take responsibility personally for our country.

[Trinbago is my land and of it I am proud and glad…]

Trinidad and Tobago will only rise if we lift it up. Let us see the good ourselves, in others and in our country. Let us take pride in our liberty.

May God bless our nation. I thank you.