My Fellow Citizens, Residents and Visitors to our Fair Isle,
Having regard to the many struggles, challenges and difficulties that we have encountered in the past forty-one years since Independence, particularly in the past four years with the advent of Tropical Storm Erika in 2015 and Hurricane Maria in 2017, and the manner in which we have overcome these to get to where we are today, the words of this beautiful hymn comes to mind:
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
And make music for our God who lives on high.
For He guides us every day, and He watches through the night.
Let us praise Him as we sing together, Holy God of Light.”
We have done well as a people and nation, and must give thanks and praise to Almighty God for bringing us thus far in so short a space of time. It is therefore with a greater sense of joy, pride, confidence and optimism that I again address you on the occasion of the observance of the Anniversary of our Independence, the 41st.
For the past four years, our focus and the concentration of all our efforts have been centered on facing up to and dealing with the aftermath of the devastation caused by the disasters referred to earlier i.e. Tropical Storm Erika and Hurricane Maria. In my message to you last year on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of our Independence, I saluted all those who had played a meaningful role in the rebuilding effort and urged that we use this achievement as a base, a platform, a foundation, to move forward and to become a model for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), in our approach to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals while at the same time pursuing a policy to becoming the first Climate Resilient Country in the World. I further urged that we resolve to embrace our island home, Dominica, and find ways to contribute to its development, better and stronger, in the wake of Erika and Maria.
I am indeed pleased to note that the evidence shows that you have done just that by becoming partners with Government as active participants in the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. We have thus laid the foundation for the emergence of a modern, resilient and sustainable Dominica. Some of the major achievements which have taken place over the last year as part of our national recovery effort include: the rehabilitation of the agricultural sector which has led to an abundance and variety of produce at the Roseau Market; the remarkable recovery of our tourism and housing sectors financed by the Citizenship By Investment (CBI) Program; the significant and ongoing improvement to the road network; the agreement for the establishment of the new Dominica University School of Medicine at the Picard Campus vacated by ROSS; and the many opportunities created in education to ensure that our citizens are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to play an increasing meaningful role in our recovery; the advancement of geothermal development project; the investments in the area of health which include the purchase of state of the art equipment, the training of medical specialists and the recently commissioned Phase One of the new and ultra-modern Dominica/China Friendship Hospital Project.
My fellow citizens, residents, and visitors, we should be proud of these accomplishments and look to the future with optimism as we seek to build on our achievements.
The theme under which we celebrate our 41st Anniversary, ”Saluting Resilience and Rejuvenation two years on,” is meant to applaud our efforts for standing up to the many struggles, challenges and difficulties posed by Hurricane Maria just two years ago.
We must be proud of our freedom, our democracy, our values and ideals and achievements, and be encouraged to remain committed to the task of nation building. We must therefore participate fully, as parents, guardians, teachers, youth, social workers, religious leaders, Dominicans and friends of Dominica, in activities geared towards nation building. Let us set aside our differences and work together to overcome the obstacles to national development; let us continue to contribute to the recovery and restoration effort by getting involved in a project in our respective neighborhoods on Community Day of Service, and beyond.
At this time of year we welcome in a very special way the several visitors from our neighbouring islands, more particularly our brothers and sisters living in the Diaspora, who are visiting relatives and friends and looking forward to enjoying our rich cultural heritage. We must never forget the efforts of our forefathers and past leaders who paved the way for our development and made it possible for us to realize these 41 years of political independence.
On this memorable occasion of the attainment of 41 years of nationhood, I extend warmest greetings and congratulations on behalf of my wife, my family and myself to all citizens and residents of our beloved country.
We are in the hurricane season. Let us continue to call upon our Heavenly Father to send His Holy Angels from Heaven to guide and protect us from all storms, from the winds and from the rains, from raging rivers and rough seas, and from harm and danger of all kinds. Let us also remember in our prayers our brothers and sisters of Abaco and Grand Bahama, two island communities of the Bahamas Archipelago, who suffered great devastation at the hands of Hurricane Dorian, and continue to offer our support to them in whatever way we can, to bring much needed comfort and relief.
May the Good Lord bless us with an enjoyable and peaceful 41st Anniversary of Independence.