Premier's Office
External Affairs
Release Date:
Tuesday, 5 July 2016 - 5:03pm

FRIDAY, JULY 1, 2016
9:00 A.M.

Good morning:

I am so pleased to see all of you who have joined us in this annual celebration of Territory Day under the theme “Our Story: The Independent Spirit of our People.

More than 50 years ago, the British Virgin Islands emerged as a Territory following the dissolution of the Federation of the Leeward Islands. 

This separation gave rise to the resolute independent spirit of the Virgin Islander. From our own self-government to the development of our people and this Territory.

Today is a celebration of the heart, soul, and strength of the Virgin Islander, and the Territorial milestones that we have made since de-federation.

I can still remember the stories of our strength that my father shared with me. For example, how we became resilient tradesmen and women with farming, fishing, and owning Mom and Pop stores of yesteryear like Lagoon Plaza, Bargain Centre and PaceSetter store and many more.

The soul of the Virgin Islander is reflected in our deeply rooted faith and belief in God to see the Virgin Islands through every stage of its development.

It is the intercession of prayer warriors that have kept God’s blessings and protection on our Territory.

Our churches have also played a key role in providing a strong spiritual foundation for our society. They were instrumental in establishing the building blocks for our modern education system.  This is because our forebears understood that educating our people was the key to our progress.  

For example, our first high school and community college are deeply rooted in the vision of a BVI where many generations of students would be able to contribute to the progress of this Territory. The success of this vision was most evident with the first graduation class of the newly accredited H. Lavity Stoutt Community College a few weeks ago.

The determination of our people has allowed us to seek ownership of our lands to build security for future generations. This is most evidenced by the many structures in our Territory named after pioneering British Virgin Islanders like the late H. Lavity Stoutt, Joshua J. Smith, Terrence B. Lettsome, and Willard Wheatley.

We have inherited this beautiful land with bountiful resources, allowing the development of landmarks that are fantastic additions to our tourism product.

These include the Tortola Pier Park that is now a wonder for tourists and locals alike; the Queen Elizabeth II Park motivating us to stay fit and healthy; and the Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park that reminds us of the mobilising power of our people.

Our strong sense of identity has been the catalyst for us to have greater control over our destiny on the world stage. Now the BVI is a major player in the global economy through our financial services industry.

Who we are as Virgin Islanders is seen in our music, literary arts and debates.

It has given birth to our Territorial emblems such as our song, dress, colors and now, our new Territorial Pledge that clearly demonstrates our commitment to keep the BVI an ideal place to live, work, visit and do business.

As we reflect today, on what this means to each of us, I am pleased that we are re-enacting three vital stories from our history’s pages with Samuel and Mary Nottingham, the Quakers; the Kingston Church for the Free Africans and; Christopher Fleming and his Gun.

These historical events highlight how we found our voice and used it to build Virgin Islands pride. They remind us of how our forefathers took advantage of the opportunities given of freedom and land wealth, and used them to shape the BVI we know today. 

They demonstrate how our ancestors stood up for our constitutional rights then, and why we must remain actively engaged in matters of Territorial interest even now.

As parents and grandparents, let us use these historical stories to start conversations and teach our young people about what it truly means to be a Virgin Islander.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, let us take pride in our culture and embrace the virtues that are unique to the Virgin Islander. Resourcefulness, resilience, integrity, will-power, unity and a clear sense of direction in all things.

As we do so, I want us all to take note of what is going on in the world today, take note of BREXIT and consider where we as a BVIslander and the British Virgin Islands needs to be.

I commend the Minister for Education and Culture, Honourable Myron V. Walwyn and his team at the ministry for their diligence and creative energy in keeping Territory Day alive.

This Territory Day, we must continue to forge a new dynamic, and work collectively to achieve more progress together. Thank you.