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Final respects paid to prominent lawyer Nicole Sylvester

Final respects paid to prominent lawyer Nicole Sylvester

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Persons should not wait until a colleague is dead before they express some of the things that they were appreciated for.

This is one of the messages that came out in the many tributes delivered on Wednesday when a vast number of members of the legal fraternity, family and friends gathered at the Cathedral{{more}} of the Assumption in Kingstown to pay their final respects to barrister and human rights advocate Nicole Othlyn Michelle Sylvester. Sylvester, who died on July 2, was celebrated for being an exceptional mother, lawyer and friend by many of her family members and colleagues.

Parnell Campbell QC was first to deliver his tribute to the deceased and did so on behalf of the legal fraternity of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The Queen’s Counsel declared that Sylvester was a woman of class, who was extremely respected by her colleagues.

“When Nicole arrived at the Bar in 1992, she hit the ground running, to use a colloquialism. We are now in a position to soberly summarize the characteristics of her of her legal practice. For that, I cannot depart from superlatives, otherwise I will not do justice to this remarkable talent, this shining light of our Caribbean civilization, this outstanding woman, this mother of mothers, this superlative patriot and nation builder,” Campbell said.

“She was always fearless, but never abrasive; always insistent, but never obnoxious; occasionally scathing, but never insulting; she would fume at a perceived injustice, but she would never lose her temper.”

Campbell noted that Sylvester was a brilliant lawyer and took time to highlight some of her accolades, which included serving as an executive member and later president of the local Bar Association, then as an executive member and later president of the OECS Bar Association. Up until her death, she served as the president of the SVG Human Rights Association and she is the founder for the annual OECS Law Fairs, which has evolved into the OECS Law conferences.

“In time, she would have become St Vincent’s first female Queen’s Counsel – of that I do not have the slightest doubt. All of this is not to say the Nicole was perfect. None of us is. But she has come much closer to that deal than any lawyer I know or have known,” the Queen’s Counsel said.

Sylvester’s godsister and family friend Dr Barbara Hutchinson described the barrister as a true friend, who was always available anytime she was needed. She also stated that Sylvester was a mother who did not hesitate to give her sons the needed exposure and opportunity, which has helped them to reach great potential in their academics and sporting disciplines.

“Over the last six years, she provided me with Christmas cakes sent by DHL. I took this for granted because they just kept coming. I am still working on last Christmas’ cake, which is now down to slivers, because I want it to last a long time. I suddenly realized before my trip here that I had to locate my Naparima Girls cookbook for a recipe, because I realized I was on my own from now on,” Hutchinson told the congregation.

According to the family friend, over the past few years, Sylvester had discovered the true source of her strength, which was Jesus Christ. Hutchinson cautioned the congregation to review their lives, as she has realized that just like Sylvester, everyone has an appointment with death that cannot be rescheduled.

Close friend and colleague Ianthea Leigertwood-Octave was among the persons that spent time with the deceased before she passed away. In her tribute, Leigertwood-Octave spoke about conversing with Sylvester a day before she died about a book that she was about to publish.

In her tribute, Leigertwood-Octave shared excerpts from Sylvester’s book with the congregation and noted that everyone present was “giving thanks for Nicole because the Lord must have wanted a pretty good lawyer up there for something.”

Monsignor Michael Stewart officiated at Wednesday’s funeral mass, during which he spoke about the mercy of God. He also told the congregation that Sylvester had gone to a “safe place”.

In his homily, Stewart made reference to Jesus’ promise of resurrection and everlasting life and declared that everyone has an advocate in Christ.

“In the hands of the Lord, we are safe. They are the safest pair of hands that could ever be. We think that when we have charge of our loved ones, they are safe with us. But we have a safe haven. We have a sure anchor, we have something that we can rely on, that we can trust, the safe haven is in the hands of the Almighty God. If she is in the hands of the Almighty God, I don’t want to take her from there. All I want to tell her is Nicole, stay where God has called you because one day, we hope to share this resting place with you,” he said.

Other tributes were delivered by president of the OECS Bar Association, Ruggles Ferguson; surgeon, Dr Phillip Louis; barrister, Kay Bacchus-Browne; representative from the Human Rights Association, Jeanie Ollivierre; Roxanne Sanderson, on behalf of Courtney Devonish; her cousin Olson Robertson; her cousin Justice Sharon Commissiong-Gianelli and relative Nelson Samuel.

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