My fellow Virgin Islanders, residents, friends, regular visitors and those who are here for the first time, a festive welcome to our 2017 Emancipation Celebration.
I also welcome those especially who have returned home to celebrate for the first time in many years.
Our Emancipation Festival is a time when we celebrate our ancestors’ freedom from slavery in 1834. We pause to reflect on their journey, resiliency and triumphs. We also take time to celebrate our cultural history.
As a Territory, we have made tremendous progress over the years because we continued building on their legacy of hard work, generosity, faith, innovation and selflessness. It is imperative; therefore, that we rededicate ourselves to our core values, build on the ideals we hold dear and continue to shape the BVI just as our forefathers did.
As we celebrate our Emancipation, let us reflect on our past to draw inspiration and look forward to the future with optimism as we continue the BVI’s progress and evolution.
Let me reassure you that my Government will continue to develop our national pride and we remain committed to building a better Virgin Islands for all of us to enjoy.
This year’s festival theme is, “Colourful Kaleidoscope To Be Seen, Creating A Cultural Scene For Festival 2017”. Let us in quiet reflection appreciate the diversity of the 60 islands, islets and cays that make up these beautiful Virgin Islands, we call home.
Let us celebrate the diverse cultures that will be displayed throughout the festivities, for it is the blending of those cultures that make the Virgin Islands the unique Territory that it is.
Let us remember the invaluable contributions of all those who are being honoured during this year’s celebrations. For example, Mr. Neil “Melee” Blyden in whose honour the Road Town village is named; the East End/Long Look Festival village in honour of Mrs. Alda Dawson-Lettsome and the Carrot Bay Cultural Fiesta in honour of Mr Oliver "Ollie" Turnbull.
I always look forward with eager anticipation to the colorful troupes and floats, supporting our local musicians, artists, bands and vendors. I truly enjoy visiting the various booths in Road Town, Carrot Bay and East End to taste the cultural dishes while celebrating with friends and family and enjoying local music and fun.
I commend the members of the Festival and Fairs Committee and its chairman, Mr. Trefor Grant along with the various sub-committees for their hard work in ensuring that this year’s festivities are superb and unforgettable. Thank you for your fortitude and for working together in ensuring a memorable emancipation celebration.
I say thank you to all the volunteers who continue to give of their time to help with the activities. I would also like to thank the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, the BVI Electricity Corporation and all those who work on-call to ensure essential services are available to us during this time.
I would like to offer my thanks to the business community for your generous contributions to our Emancipation Festival. I have always said my Government cannot do it alone. It is your partnerships and sponsors that are vital to bringing the committee’s vision for our celebration to reality.
Ladies and Gentlemen, at this time, I ask that during the festivities you enjoy yourself, but do so responsibly.
I look forward to seeing you at the various events throughout the Territory and wish you all a Happy and Safe Festival 2017!