Tobago’s progress will not come through inertia or “doing things the same way we have always done them,” but by a transformation of one’s mind and heart.
So said Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles in his address at Tuesday’s Tobago Day Awards ceremony hosted by the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) at the auditorium of the Shaw Park Complex.
This year, with the theme, “Tobago…Never Settle for Ordinary,” was held as the island celebrated 38 years of the current incarnation of the THA, established through Act 37 of 1980 and amended by Act 40 of 1996.
Charles, noting the approach of a new year, encouraged Tobagonians “to challenge yourself to be the change in this society that you want to see.”
“Progress of Tobago can only come through metanoia, a transformation of one’s heart or mind,” he said.
“As each of us takes personal responsibility to reflect, introspect and transform, it will affect and impact the whole. I urge you to never settle for ordinary and let our new mantra as persons residing on this beautiful island be, ‘I love Tobago.’”
“Let us recommit or in some cases commit to loving Tobago. We must challenge ourselves to a new level of patriotism for this island and by extension our beloved country. It cannot be that those on the outside who visit our shores see more value and have greater appreciation for our own land far more than we do.
“Needless to say, we do not have a perfect island or country and most certainly there are many things we can do better or should have done better. We must be determined to ensure that our shortcomings or even our failures as a people, should not hinder us from saying, ‘I love Tobago’ and truly mean it,” he said.
Charles also touched on business and politics, contended in the former instance, that Tobago was in need of a more robust and dynamic private sector that is not dependent on THA as its main client, and that entrepreneurship and private enterprise must be encouraged more aggressively among the population, especially the youth
In terms of politics, he urged Tobagonians to not settle for ordinary in matters of governance.
“You are the employers of us politicians. You have a duty and responsibility to collaborate with us as we seek to transform this island through stronger communities, loving, stable families, a flourishing agriculture sector and a booming tourism sector and a robust education system - to hold us accountable while in office.
“Therefore, your support is imperative and so too are our conversations with you. I encourage you to keep the lines of communication open as we are here to work with you and for you.”
Chief Administrator and Chairman of the Tobago Day Awards Committee, Raye Sandy, in his address, said the event can be seen as a beacon in a world that some view as darkened with negativity, hopelessness and despair.
“As a progressive people, we must rise, shake off the negative shackles that tend to burden us and work to enhance the elimination of that beacon with hard work, dedication and commitment.
“Individually, we must let our lights shine, so that collectively we can dispel the darkness hovering around us so that men and women can see our good works and associate themselves to our positive contributions and determine to do better for the benefit of ourselves, our families and our community and neighbours,” Sandy said.
He said the awardees have made their mark, not to receive public adoration for their contributions but to give of their best in the field that they chose or perhaps destined to lead. The awardees represent the good citizens that persons must emulate, he added.
Awardees – Tobago day 2018
Gwyneth Armstrong- Tobago Medal of Honour, Gold, for distinguished and outstanding service to Tobago in the sphere of Music
Dr Robert T Yorke - Tobago Medal of Honour, Gold, for distinguished and outstanding service to Tobago in the sphere of Tourism (Post-humous)
Anetta Archer - Tobago Medal of Honour, Silver, for long and meritorious service to Tobago in the spheres of Education and Community Services (Posthumous)
Martha Arche r- Tobago Medal of Honour, Silver, for long and meritorious service to Tobago in the sphere of Sport.
Kenneth Washington - Tobago Medal of Honour, Bronze, for loyal and devoted service beneficial to Tobago in the sphere of Community Service.
Royal Sweet Fingers Tambrin Band - Tobago Medal of Honour, Bronze, for loyal and devoted service beneficial to Tobago in the sphere of Culture.
Korice Archer-Quashie-Nancis - Chief Secretary’s Award for Outstanding Contribution and Significant Achievement in 2018 in the sphere of Women’s Health Awareness and Advocacy.
Karen Berkley Charles - Calypso Rose Award for the Performing Arts
Dominic Williams – the Shadow Award for Oral Tradition