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Chatoyer honoured at obelisk ceremony

Chatoyer honoured at obelisk ceremony

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“National Heroes are important beacons – lighting the way for generations to come.” These words by Mike Browne rang true as the annual Chatoyer wreath laying ceremony took place at the obelisk at Dorsetshire Hill on National Heroes Day last Friday – some 213 years after Chatoyer’s death.{{more}}

In his address, Minister Browne brought greetings on behalf of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and Sir Louis Straker who were both out of state. Browne also spoke of the recently deceased Andy Palacio, who was a Belizean artiste of Garifuna descent. Palacio, who died in January, had received an international award for his music from UNESCO in Spain last year.

Browne also spoke of those who would try to oppose the progressive movement that the Unity Labour Party Government is spearheading. He declared, “Our own history has shown that any time the progressive movement is defeated, we return to backward, anti-people programmes. Chatoyer’s defeat resulted in the oppressive system of chattel slavery being imposed.”

Governor General Dr. Frederick Ballantyne led the wreath laying procession. This was followed by a cultural package, which included solidarity messages, spoken word and sung performances from the World Garifuna Council, Dorsetshire Hill Primary School, Garifuna Heritage Foundation, National Youth Council, the Girls’ High School, the Grammar School Young Leaders and a Spiritual Baptist delegation. Glenroy ‘Sulle’ Caesar gave a catchy performance of his Heritage Month Song, and Rene Baptiste also gave remarks. Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace (who had been scheduled to give remarks) was noticeably absent.

In commemoration of Chatoyer’s life and struggles, March 14th is celebrated as National Heroes Day. It was first declared in 2001, by proclamation, and then by an Act of Parliament in 2002. Mike Browne emphasised that this celebration “…should serve, each time we have it, to recommit ourselves to the progressive movement in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.” (JSV)

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