On the morning of Friday May 10th, a new Canadian flag was officially raised next to the Saint Lucian flag above the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School (CCSS). The flags are a representation of the united commitment of the Government and People of Saint Lucia and the Government and People of Canada toward learning in Saint Lucia. The ceremony was also part of the celebration of the school’s 45th Anniversary.
Present at the event was Marva Daniel, Principal of the CCSS; the Honourable Stephenson King, Minister for Infrastructure, Ports, Energy and Labour; her Excellency Marie Legault, High Commissioner of Canada to the Eastern Caribbean; Agnes Pust, Counsellor from the High Commission of Canada; Martha Foster, District Education Officer; Sharon Dowdy and Nadine Dupres, representatives of Royalton Hotel; and Dame Laurence Laurent, the first Principal of the CCSS. The welcome remarks were presented by CCSS student, Akim Ernest.
The Government of Canada has continued to support and promote the maintenance of the school’s infrastructure. In 2017, support for the CCSS was reinforced when Canada collaborated with the Government of Saint Lucia and Sunwing, the owner of Royalton hotel. The collaborative efforts of the aforementioned generated in excess of CAD$100,000 and EC $50,000 in addition to a number of in-kind donations inclusive of material and equipment. Marie Legault stated that it was not difficult to source funding for the renovation project for the school. Royalton sent two representatives to attend the ceremony because as stated by Agnes Pust, they feel a very personal connection to the school. She said she was delighted for the support the school had received, and that the High Commission is proud to be associated with a school that has such a reputation for excellence.
The funds were used for a number of repairs to the physical structure of the CCSS. Renovations to the roof were a major part of the work which was completed. In addition to repairs, a livestock, vegetable and herb garden is also being cultivated to facilitate SBAs, and the education of agricultural and Food & Nutrition students.
Canadian support for CCSS was the basis upon which the school itself was founded. In the 1970s and 1980s, Canada executed a programme in which they built 150 ‘Maple Leaf’ schools. The CCSS was originally a Maple Leaf School which was built by the Government of Canada. It is no wonder the school uniform is the same colour as the Canadian flag. The school was officially handed over to the Government and People of Saint Lucia on 31st March, 1974. Agnes Pust emphasized that Canada’s initial investment in the founding of CCSS has gone an exceedingly long way through the thousands of alumni and alumna that the school has produced throughout the years.
On the morning of May 10th students at CCSS sang the Canadian National Anthem to warmly welcome their Canadian guests, Marie Legault and Agnes Pust. During the key note address by Marie Legault, she remarked, “This school, the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School, is one of the most tangible examples of the relationship that exists between Canada and Saint Lucia.” Infrastructure Minister Stephenson King also addressed the assembly of students and teachers. He captivated his young listeners with humour and inspired spells of laughter. The Minister expressed gratitude on behalf of the people of Saint Lucia to the Government of Canada for the gift of the CCSS which they made to Saint Lucia forty-five years ago. He remarked that the CCSS was a gift that kept on giving through the remarkable achievements of its students, and therefore should “be cherished at all times forever, and to be kept forever.” The Minister spoke of his appreciation for the institution and announced that he will sponsor a school trip to Martinique for the students of CCSS.
There was also a dynamic Theatre Arts performance by one of the students, followed by an exchange of gifts and tokens of appreciation between the Government of Canada, the CCSS, and the Government of Saint Lucia. The event culminated in affectionate hugs between all participants of the event.