WITH a packed agenda of activities on this year’s Independence calendar, one would have thought that the activities would have been well attended. Ironically, that was not the case – at least for this week, that is.
Main highlights this week included the National Colours Day, Youth Exposé and Miss Independence Pageant held on Tuesday and the various activities held on Wednesday (Independence Day), including the military rally and “Best of Saint Lucia Celebrations” at Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, Independence Island Ride and Drive and Cassava Festival.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet spoke briefly at Wednesday’s celebratory rally at Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, calling on Saint Lucians to use the moment to reflect, be proud of, and strive to make Saint Lucia a better place to live and work.
“This week is an opportunity for us to celebrate what is great about Saint Lucia,” Chastanet said. “To pat ourselves on the back for the journey we have travelled so far. And what an incredible journey it has been that people around the world know the name ‘Saint Lucia’. I stand here today proud to say I am Saint Lucia.”
Chastanet said Saint Lucia would not be a stable society unless citizens had access to equity and justice. He challenged citizens to ensure that basic human and civil rights are protected.
Gros Islet MP and Minister for Equity, Social Justice, Empowerment, Youth Development, Sports, Culture and Local Government, Lenard “Spider” Montoute, spoke on behalf of the government, said that while being modern had its inherent pluses, the traditional wisdom that served Saint Lucians in good stead for decades should not be abandoned.
“The old values that worked for many generations past should not be thrown away so easily,” Montoute said. “As Brother George (Odlum) would constantly caution, ‘Do not throw out the baby with the bath water.’ Sadly, I think as a society, we have done just that. In our maddening quest to modernize – and do not think for a moment that I do not like modernity and the possibilities it presents – but without much thought, we have rid ourselves of some of the timeless values that served us very well for a very long time. Crucially, many of those values are still very relevant today.”
Leader of the Opposition, Philip J. Pierre, said that while Saint Lucia was not immune from the global socio-economic pressures, every endeavour must be pursued towards improving the quality of life for citizens. He said such pressures should inspire citizens to make the necessary adjustments that will ensure sustained economic and social development.
“Our beliefs and values must change if we are to reshape the future of our nation,” Pierre said. “We must re-embrace some of the values that we once had, like respect for each other, tolerance, equity, openness and fairness. There should be no place in our society for vindictiveness and victimization by organs of the State, which our people are expected to respect and trust.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Constitution Park was host to scores of young people expressing their artistic talents through masquerade, dance and song.
On Tuesday evening, Anya Edwin won this year’s Miss Independence Pageant, edging out Chelsea Toussaint, SimaFaucher and Pauline Francis. Edwin, who was crowned Miss Independence in 2013, also won special awards – Best Promotional Speech, Best Evening Wear and tied with first runner-up Faucher for Best Interview.
This year’s pageant – dubbed “The Queen of Queens” – featured four former winners of the pageant promoting the themes of empowerment, equality, democracy and dialogue.
One of the major concerns during the celebrations has been the poor turnout for the events, especially since most of them are free to the public. While organizers of this year’s activities sounded the call for citizens to show their patriotism through participation, many argue that their indifference stems from them not being proud about the direction the country was heading.
Independence activities continue this weekend with the Volleyball Championships, Rugby Sevens Tournament, Women-Lypso Classics Invitational Games, 3×3 Basketball Finals and the Order of Saint Lucia Investiture ceremony.