This country’s leader has called for the Annual Chatoyer Wreath-Laying ceremony to be given prominence and a status similar or superior to that of the Miss SVG or the Miss Carival Pageants.
Delivering the feature address at the Obelisk at Dorsetshire Hill on Tuesday, March 14, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves asked people not to misconstrue his statement and think that he does not like the Miss SVG or Miss Carival shows. He, however, noted that when these shows are compared to the Annual Chatoyer Wreath-Laying Ceremony, in terms of significance to the country they are ephemeral matters.
The Prime Minister also highlighted another issue of concern to Vincentians. Reparation for slavery must be placed on the agenda, he said. But Dr. Gonsalves noted that there has to be an acknowledgement by the Europeans, especially the British, first, of the genocide that they carried out against the Caribs so that they can make recompense for the act.
He also called for the issue of African slavery to be put on the agenda and for those whose forefathers were responsible to make an apology and amends by giving some form of assistance to the region.
With regard to the National Heroes issue, Dr. Gonsalves made an appeal to all Vincentians to study the National Heroes Act. He said that while persons make the call for more persons to be given National Hero status they must remember that in St.Vincent and the Grenadines one cannot be a national hero unless he or she is deceased. Secondly, he said that person must demonstrate extraordinary qualities of heroism.
Dr. Gonsalves mentioned that while people make suggestions of persons who should be considered for the title, it is his personal view that the most immediate persons who should be considered are Ebenezer Joshua, Milton Cato and George McIntosh.
Dr. Gonsalves told the nation to guard against giving too many persons the country’s highest title lest it become devalued.
Montgomery Daniel, Area Representative for North Windward, appreciated the fact that Vincentians have matured and are no longer treating the indigenous people of this country as second class. He said the day was an important one for him because later that morning he was going to witness the official opening of the first Garifuna Community Radio Station on the island.
Rene Baptiste, Minister of Culture, in her address called on Vincentians to become more aware of their history. An appeal was thrown out to the teachers to teach students about the country’s indigenous history, especially that of Joseph Chatoyer.
Also attending the ceremony was Senator St. Clair Leacock of the New Democratic Party. He reminded the gathering that they should always remain conscious of the fact that there are more issues that unite the nation than divide us, and Vincentians should always strive for unity.
Providing entertainment for the ceremony were the Chatoyer Youths, students of the Kingstown Anglican School who performed a dance, Reigning Calypso Monarch Glenroy “Sulle” Caesar and a medley of Spiritual Songs by the Spiritual Baptists. There was also a large representation by members of local Heritage Clubs.