KINGSTON — Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, is encouraging Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of State to place greater focus on enriching the lives of the region’s youth.
“I urge you fellow Presidents and Governors-General to continue to commit our offices and extend our influence to reach our young people. They are the future of the Caribbean. We have to build in them confidence toward the future, an indomitable spirit, and defiance in the face of adversity and challenge,” he said.
The Governor-General was speaking at the opening of the 14th annual Conference of Presidents and Governors-General of CARICOM, on November 21, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, in New Kingston.
He said CARICOM’s Heads of State can do more “to advance our societies” and effect positive change in young people, given their ideal position as being “above the political fray and being able to act as mediators and conciliators.”
“It is important to take stock of what’s right with us as we contemplate the future. I believe our values and attitudes will determine how we build our future. Our future is dependent on the values and attitudes we manifest and how we are able to inculcate these in our youth,” he argued.
The Governor-General reminded conference participants that the region comprises “a tough, resolute and defiant people,” that has produced brilliant historians who have documented the heroic struggles of the ancestors, and that “we need to use the history to ground our young people and let them know and appreciate the heritage that they have.”
He pointed out that he launched the ‘I Believe Initiative’ because he passionately believes that there is need to build in people, possibility thinking and a can-do spirit.
“We need to see ourselves, not as hapless victims and creatures of circumstances, but as a strong, resilient, resourceful, courageous people who are willing and able to take on the world – whatever it brings,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Governor-General said that despite the problems faced, he was proud of the region’s achievements, particularly in terms of democracy.
“When I think about the challenges which the global community has had with democracy and with what is called democratic collapse; when I reflect on the many countries which have suffered from coups, dictatorships, tyranny and repression, I feel proud of our record as a region,” he said.
The Governor-General said even though the region has not been perfect, “we have been exemplary and have been a model,” in terms of commitment to democracy and the rule of law.
“When we see that even some countries which have had a long democratic tradition have suffered serious reversals, we should pause to celebrate our rich, enviable democratic traditions…(which) are not just enshrined in Constitutions, they are enshrined in the hearts and minds of our people. We have nurtured a democratic culture, democratic ethos, and a democratic spirit,” he said.
Governor-General of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes, for his part, thanked the Governor-General and the Government of Jamaica for hosting the conference.
Pointing out this was his first time participating in the conference, Sir Arthur assured of his personal commitment to regional unity and the will of the Government of the Bahamas to work towards that goal.
He expressed the hope that “this conference and every other forum in CARICOM and every point of contact between us, will serve to advance the cause for unity.”
Ten Heads of State from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica are attending the four-day conference, which is being held under the theme: ‘Building Together for the Future’.
The event will allow for the sharing of experiences and developments in the various territories. The programme will include a number of working sessions involving persons drawn from the fields of politics, economics, and academia, among others.
The presenters will speak on various topics, such as: ‘Expanding the Role of the Office of the Governor-General’; ‘Initiatives of the Governor-General and their Impact on Nation Building’; ‘The Centrality of CXC to Educational Development and Change in the Region’; ‘Terms and Conditions of Service’; and ‘Matters of Protocol’.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter