Press Release:– A small group of nationals gathered at the High Commission in London, December 13 for the annual flag-raising ceremony to commemorate St Lucia’s national day.
Due to COVID restrictions, the numbers had to be scaled down this year.
The atmosphere was joyful as the small crowd of people gathered around the pathway to the High Commission to recite the national anthem as the flag was raised.
Afterward, the attendees moved indoors to enjoy food and drink, listening to speeches given by a series of distinguished guests, including His Excellency Guy Mayers – the High Commissioner for St Lucia, Journalist and Historian Colin Maximin, activist and educator Carnita Cenac, and event organizer Justin Moore MBE JP.
“It is a great honour to be here today. I look forward to this event every year where we come together to celebrate our country’s National Day,” said Moore who has been organizing this event for the past 14 years.”
This year’s event is small due to the pandemic and I am happy that we are still able to host it.”
Adds Moore ” I am extremely grateful to the High Commissioner and his staff for allowing us to keep this event on their premises.”
Journalist and historian Colin Maximin gave a talk about prominent St Lucians from the 1700s.In an Extemporaneous speech, he revealed how the meaningful contributions of Jean Baptiste Bideau and Flore Bois Gaillard, two brave soldiers who fought against slavery, oppression, and European colonialism helped shape today’s future in St Lucia and the rest of the Caribbean. Bideau was from Desruisseaux and Gaillard a native of the West Coast of the island.
“Bideau was a corsair from Desruisseaux who helped Venezuelan leader Simon Bolivar liberate his country and many other South American states,” Maximin said. “Flore Bois Gaillard was one of the finest soldiers St Lucia ever produced. She fought bravely and valiantly and was instrumental in helping declare St Lucia a free state after getting rid of the British in the 1700s.”
The Journalist who has been practicing his craft for the past thirty-something years also took time to debunk the controversy surrounding the birthplace of Empress Josephine, the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. He described how he was finally able to find the place where the “Empress of the French” was born putting paid to the many reports and stories surrounding her place of birth.
“I found out that she was born in St Lucia and not Martinique, which is what we have been made to believe over the years. Henry H. Breen, the First Mayor of Castries, back in 1844, found and published evidence that Empress Josephine was born in St Lucia and Not Martinique. I was also able to find a few historians who were also able to entertain that conviction.”
The High Commissioner praised the “excellent project” and commended the organisers for their work in “bringing the St Lucian community together for a common cause”. He appealed to people in the diaspora to do more to help the country, especially during the pandemic.
“I am calling on our citizens to make investments at home. We should try to invest in government bonds which will be beneficial and to bring a good return on investment. Now is a good time to invest which will help in the development of your country. You have continued to support our folks back home with your remittances and the barrels. We need to thank the government of St Lucia for this initiative which they have extended for the barrel contribution not only for Christmas but until the end of January. I implore you to continue to support” said Mr. Mayers.
Veteran educator Carnita Cenac reminded the crowd about the reason why the flag-raising ceremony is being held annually.
“The flag-raising ceremony has been a staple event in the Newham council calendar of events since 2006. Since 2006 the flag is raised in the Newham town hall. Mr. Justin Moore and Mrs.Joycelyn Gustave felt the need to celebrate our country’s national day in the UK in the diaspora.” said Ms. Cenac, who was introduced as a daughter of Helen. She went on to recite a poem about St Lucian folklore in the Kwayol language. “Sacway magii noir” a word used to describe black magic.
In his closing remarks, organizer Mr.Moore a Magistrate in Newham, London, thanked everyone for coming and for helping to celebrate and mark the ‘nationhood of the nation’.
He said” As you know today is the 14th anniversary of our flag raising ceremony here in the UK. We have worked all along to ensure that we get the best of Greenlight for the whole community. We are still holding our ground to offer this service. This civic ceremony has been supported by the High Commissioner of St Lucia and the mayor of Newham.” Moore said ” As a community, we have to continue to work together with a view to getting the right answer. The Flag raising helps to bring people from all cultural backgrounds together – the purpose of this is to share information and to encourage people to visit our beautiful island of St Lucia.”
Adds Moore: “This is not the end of the chapter but the beginning of the chapter.”