Jarrette Narine, Gordon Rohlehr among seven Chaconia silver honourees

Prof Emeritus Gordon Rohlehr and President Paula-Mae chat after he received the Chaconia silver medal at the National Awards ceremony, NAPA, Port of Spain. Photo courtesy Office of the President. -
Prof Emeritus Gordon Rohlehr and President Paula-Mae chat after he received the Chaconia silver medal at the National Awards ceremony, NAPA, Port of Spain. Photo courtesy Office of the President. -

RETIRED parliamentarian and agriculture minister Jarrette Narine, UWI Prof Emeritus Gordon Rohlehr, and restoration architect Rudylynn DeFour-Roberts were among the seven individuals awarded the Chaconia silver medal under the Republic Day National Awards.

The second highest Chaconia medal, according to the Office of the President's criteria, "may be awarded to any person (citizen as well as non-citizen) who has performed long and meritorious service to TT tending to promote the national welfare or strengthen the community spirit.

"It may be awarded posthumously, but a deceased recipient does not become a member of the (Distinguished Society of TT)," an exclusive group for TT nationals who have earned a national award.

The Chaconia medal is awarded in gold, silver or bronze "in accordance with the assessed value of the service rendered."

Narine was awarded for his contributions to public service, while Rohlehr was awarded for contributions to literature, culture, history and education, and DeFour-Roberts for her contributions to built heritage, conservation and preservation.

Retired registered nurse Joycelyn Hackshaw was also awarded the Chaconia silver for her contributions to nursing, healthcare and public service; artistic director and playwright Victor Edwards for his contributions to theatre, culture and education; retired UWI dance coordinator Hazel Franco for her contributions to the performing arts; and Claire Gittens, co-founder of the Rape Crisis Society of TT and of the Coalition Against Domestic Violence, was awarded for her contributions to social work.

A statement from the President's office noted that Narine "enjoyed a long and illustrious political career," serving on the St George East County Council for eight years before contesting the General Elections in 1991 as the PNM's Arima North representative.

"While holding significant ministerial portfolios, Mr Narine served his constituency well, overseeing the refurbishment of the Surrey and D’abadie Community Centres, rebuilding of the Arima West Government Primary, and building of the Lopinot Community Centre, among others," the President's statement read.

Narine, who won all seven general election seats in which he contested, was honoured to be included among the distinguished society of TT.

His daughter, Kavita Narine, who received the medal on his behalf, told Sunday Newsday her father was humbled upon hearing the news.

Kavita Narina accepts the Chaconia silver medal on behalf of her father Jarrette Narine from President Paula-Mae Weekes during the National Awards ceremony, NAPA, Port of Spain on Saturday. Photo courtesy Office of President -

"He has worked very hard in public life but also community service," Narine's daughter said.

"Before settling into politics, community service was always part of his life."

Narine, 78, is enjoying his retirement and according to his daughter, is "okay, just getting on with age.

"He's not sickly, he's just not as (active) as he used to be."

Rohlehr, another awardee of the Chaconia silver medal, is credited for having designed and taught the first course in West Indian Literature at the UWI.

"He pioneered the academic study of calypso and traced its historical development and social relevance," the President's office noted.

"He has researched and authored many ground-breaking publications on the social, historical, linguistic and political currents undergirding Caribbean reality and is considered to be a leading authority on calypso and Caribbean culture."

Meanwhile, DeFour-Roberts was celebrated for a number of achievements, including the establishment of the Architects for Conservation in 1982 and is now called the Citizens for Conservation, which has advocated for the restoration of the heritage houses around the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

"Ms DeFour-Roberts is recognised as the country’s most authoritative voice on all matters of restoration, conservation, and preservation of built heritage," the statement noted.

Hackshaw served as director of Institutional Nursing at the Ministry of Health from 1987-1990 and director of the College of Nursing at NIHERST from 1990-1995, where she oversaw the introduction of the associate degree in nursing programme as well as the inclusion of sign language in the curriculum.

She has also served as chief nursing officer, president of the TT Registered Nurses Association, and president of the Caribbean Nurses Organisation.

Edwards, the President's office said, "immediately set about expanding its influence and scope" of the Secondary Schools Drama Association when he became president in 1988.

"He secured important sponsorships which facilitated training workshops on theatre skills to teachers and students throughout TT."

The statement said that because of his influence, theatre arts was formalised as a CXC subject in 2003 and included as an option for a national scholarship in 2005.

Franco, chief architect of the certificate in dance education and bachelor's in dance at the UWI, "has been involved in professional training and choreography, research, production, mentorship and arts coordination for six decades, and has presented on the history of folk dances of TT at national, regional and international conferences," the President's office statement read.

"She is, at present, documenting the history of dance in TT.

And, Gittens, co-founder of the Rape Crisis Society of TT and of the Coalition Against Domestic Violence "has (over the years) conducted numerous sensitisation lectures and community engagements throughout the country, championing the rights of women and girls."

As director of Family Services at the Ministry of Social Development, the statement said, Gittens "continued her advocacy, giving increased focus to the rights of children, particularly against all forms of child abuse."


"Jarrette Narine, Gordon Rohlehr among seven Chaconia silver honourees"

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