Diaspora conference calls for unity among Vincentians
October 26, 2012
Diaspora conference calls for unity among Vincentians

The St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora and Development Conference was held in Brooklyn, New York on October 6 at Kingdom Life Ministries International Inc.{{more}}

Over 130 participants attended the all-day conference, organised by the SVG Diaspora Committee of New York Inc., in partnership with the SVG Consulate General in the USA, Council of Vincentian Organization in the USA (COSAGO), and the Garifuna Coalition USA Inc.

At the Conference, Congress Woman Yvette Clark gave a United States Congressional Proclamation to Prime Minister of SVG, Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

The SVG Diaspora Committee of New York received a proclamation from Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz.

During the opening ceremony, Maxwell Haywood, chair of the SVG Diaspora Committee of New York Inc., traced the origin of the Conference back to 2009 when the SVG USA Diaspora Homecoming Conference was convened in New York and recommended that a diaspora conference be organized every 3 years.

He highlighted the contributions of the Diaspora to SVG and the United States. He stated that the Conference is part of a larger effort to turn a new page in SVG’s Diaspora affairs and contribute in releasing the full positive potential of SVG Diaspora affairs.

The opening ceremony also heard remarks from Dr Peter Bonadie, bishop of Kingdom Life Ministries, Laverne McDowald-Thompson, president of COSAGO, Jose Avila, resident of the Garifuna Coalition USA Inc., and Prime Minister Gonsalves, who delivered the feature address.

Gonsalves traced the history of migration in SVG and spoke about the dynamics of migration of Vincentians.

He also spoke of his government’s policy to educate and train people who, if they are not able to find jobs in SVG, could migrate to find work and send back remittances.

He declared that his Government has approved, in principle, a draft of the national Diaspora policy, which will be finalized for Cabinet approval and parliamentary endorsement.

He then outlined a number of areas, recommendations, and questions for action to enhance SVG’s diaspora affairs.

Among the presenters at the conference was Cleo Huggins, executive director of Invest SVG — Kingstown’s invest seeking agency.

She said the diaspora is a strategic priority of Invest SVG and outlined the investment opportunities in SVG.

Other presentations came from Derry Williams, managing director of the Bank of SVG, and Toni Johnson of Leave Out Violence in SVG (LOVINSVG), a non-violence advocacy organization in SVG.

The conference heard calls for more unity among Vincentians at home and abroad around common causes and plans to carry forward the work of the Conference such as.

These plans include producing, popularizing, and advocating conference recommendations and those of the SVG USA Diaspora Framework for Action.