Front Page
March 18, 2005

A small group of persons turned up at the obelisk at Dorsetshire Hill on National Heroes’ Day to pay tribute to our first National Hero Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer.

Two representatives of our indigenous people stood guard at the obelisk while a strong constant breeze cooled the hot day.{{more}}

Following a moving rendition of the National Anthem and a prayer, a message was delivered from the National Youth Council, represented by Ikamola Laborde. The NYC made a call for a National Heroes park with a statue of Joseph Chatoyer and warned that the activity should not be a partisan one. The youth grouping also called for the recognition of other persons as national heroes and for the teaching of the history of the Caribs/Garifunas in our schools.

Also delivering a short address, Tourism and Culture Minister Rene Baptiste seemed to be responding directly to the call from the NYC and said that the Heroes’ Park was on the national agenda. She said that an area of Cox’s Heath in Kingstown had been identified though still to be finalised.

Evidently noting the sparcity of the attendance at the function and the absence of members of the political opposition, the minister said she would take up the challenge and invite a broad-based committee to sit with the ministry next year to plan the National Heroes Day activity.

Following a graceful dance routine performed by students of the Owia Primary School and dances from Carib children dressed in traditional costume Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves addressed the gathering. He termed the activity as one pregnant with history then proceeded to lament the trend of selfishness in the society.

The Prime Minister said that we could win lasting victories when we work together for noble ends. He said that was one of the lessons from the example of Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer.

He noted that it was Chatoyer, working with Duvalle and others that provided the context for his victories and to demonstrate his extraordinary qualities.

Dr.Gonsalves noted that Joseph Chatoyer was a most disciplined individual and said that his life cannot be celebrated unless one is wedded to a core set of values, including the respect for people.

The Prime Minister noted that our people have battled slavery, colonialism and now trade liberalisation exemplified by the manner in which our banana industry has been ravaged. He urged the quest for excellence to overcome adversity.

Wreaths were laid by the Governor-General Sir Frederick Ballantyne, by the Prime Minister and by the president of the Garifuna Foundation Zoila Ellis Brown among others.