from: Her Excellency Dame Susan D. Dougan GCMG, OBE
to mark the 44th Anniversary of Independence of SVG
As our nation celebrates 44 years of Independence, let us as a people reflect on the journey the country has taken as an independent one and how we have managed to give this small nation of ours its own unique identity.
Today, we applaud the efforts of our people who continue to arm themselves with the determination, fortitude, resilience and strength of spirit necessary to overcome the many challenges faced. Despite the many limitations, they continue to do what is right, even in the face of adversity to make something of themselves and in the process enhance the image of this country. It is the summation of the efforts of each individual citizen that makes our nation what it is.
As we celebrate our anniversary of Independence under the theme, “Our Resilience, Our Fortitude, Our People, Our Identity…Road to 45,” let us move forward boldly and confidently and not dwell on the enormous challenges of the last three years.
In fact, when we reflect on the past devastating challenges, including the disruptions caused by the volcanic eruptions, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the wars taking place throughout several regions of the world which are causing serious upheavals, shortages of goods and material and untold suffering globally, Vincentians have to a large extent responded admirably and courageously.
Our citizens throughout the last few stressful years have not buckled. They have not surrendered in despair and have in no way lost hope and the will to carry on. As an example of our will to keep a positive perspective, our students, at all levels of the education system, are excelling and their results are testimony to the potential which exists among the youths to really reach for the stars. That potential shown by our young people is very encouraging and will no doubt be fully realised as new technologies are introduced to enhance teaching and learning as they come to hand. Parents, students, teachers, school administrators, the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders must be applauded for their efforts.
We must also recognise the recovery efforts of the tourism sector after several months of severe difficulty. There is now marked improvement in cruise tourism, more requests for accommodation and the opening of new hotels, all of which augur well for the industry. The health sector also received considerable attention including the training of personnel to buttress the services provided by this sector. Plans are also in place to continue to provide modernised health facilities. The agricultural sector is showing some signs of recovery with much effort being made to boost production.
During this period of recovery, our democracy has been fortified with sound leadership and purposeful public sector management. The leadership remains dedicated and focused on achieving goals in the best interest of the nation and generally, the public service has performed satisfactorily in implementing the policies.
Vincentians have always recognised that our shared principles and values form the foundation of our collective identity and as a nation we must strive to create a culture where every individual feels valued and respected. Our individual values must, therefore, be such that they help in promoting the interests of humanity as a whole, so that when the individual principles and values are combined, the result is a humane society – one that subscribes to order and leaves no room for disorder and chaos.
We value our homeland as one where there is peace, freedom, stability and the rule of law. We must hold on to those ideals that identify us as Vincentians. Recently, however, our tranquility has been disrupted by those elements that resort to wanton crime and violence. It is important to recognise the progress made since we attained Independence in 1979 and work towards a more tolerant society.
I must also emphasise here, however, that despite all of our efforts to build a strong and thriving nation, our efforts will be futile if the nations of the world continue to ignore the effects of their actions on global climate. The world-wide shifts in temperatures and weather patterns are brought about mainly by human activities for economic reasons. These activities result in green house gas emissions and take place mainly in the developed world. As a small nation with an insignificant carbon footprint, we are suffering the effects of climate change daily. We are currently experiencing unbearable heat, strange weather patterns and more frequent hurricanes. This problem has to be dealt with internationally.
Fellow Vincentians, in closing, let us renew our commitment to work together to build a society that embraces the contribution of every Vincentian. We have proven our fortitude and resilience over the forty-four (44) years of Independence; we have shown that we can be a unified people when circumstances dictate that we do so; let us acknowledge our differences, neutralise those that we can and learn to live amicably with each other despite those differences that we cannot neutralise.
Let us remain a people of worth – a people with our own identity.
My family and I wish every Vincentian a Happy Independence.