Statia prepares to celebrate Emancipation Day 2021
In recognition of the importance of slavery and emancipation to the history and heritage of St. Eustatius, preparations are in full swing for Emancipation Day on July 1st. Celebrating Emancipation Day as a public holiday is a desire of the community taken up in a motion of the Island Council on May 19th, 2017.
As a result of the close collaboration between the Central Dialogue Statia (CDS), the Public Entity St. Eustatius and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW), this year Emancipation Day will be celebrated under a so-called ‘gedoogd beleid’.
Under the theme of “Fostering the Dialogue on Slavery and Emancipation”, three work committees were established and are currently preparing for the celebrations with the objective to ensure broad community participation in Emancipation Day in 2021 and in the future.
The Committee Fostering Dialogue on Slavery and Emancipation comprises of Statians living at home and in the diaspora. This group is responsible for fostering and broadening the dialogue about Statia’s past, where are we now, where are we going and what are the tools and instruments needed to get there.
Committee members are Raimie Richardson (Chairman), Dr. Jean-Marie Schmidt (Secretary), Paul Spanner, George Berkel, Dr. Xiomara Balentina and Christina Timber-Glover.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how broad participation is made possible by way of technology and the internet. Therefore, we find it fitting to establish this committee aimed at broadening the dialogue beyond its own core.
Involving not only Statians at home, but also Statians in the diaspora, stakeholders in the Dutch Caribbean and the European part of The Netherlands. The intended effect is to foster social cohesion and national pride throughout the community of St. Eustatius. This is hopefully a start in the healing process from ancestral hurt as well as fostering a healthy dialogue focused on the future”, says Act. Government Commissioner Alida Francis.
The Emancipation Day Festivities Committee will bring Statia’s finest talents, schools and organizations together in a series of activities that will culminate in a grand cultural manifestation on July 1st. This committee comprises Rijziena Hooker (President), Sherees Timber (Vice-President, Brian Carty (Secretary), Misha Spanner, Dion Humphreys (Mega D), Shanettie Carty, Sharday Bennett and Nasha Radjouki of the Department of Culture as Advisor.
The four primary schools and the secondary school are represented in a third committee that will promote education and awareness on slavery and emancipation in schools. The schools have agreed on the project-based approach where each school will give content to an aspect of slavery and emancipation.
The schools are fully on board and will include the Emancipation Day activities in their history and social sciences classes. The objective is to eventually include slavery and emancipation in the school curriculum. The Emancipation Day Festivities Committee will ensure that partipation of children in the Buzzy Bees, Happy Kids and Maychees day care centers is arranged through a series of age-appropriate activities and assignments.
“The Central Dialogue Statia (CDS) is pleased with the outcome of this collaboration between the Public Entity, Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland (RCN) and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour (SZW). In order to achieve this important milestone, parties in a letter to the Ministry expressed the wish to exchange Carnival Monday in order to make Emancipation Day (July 1st) a public holiday. Collaboration and cooperation have resulted in a great achievement for St. Eustatius and underlines the importance of the active role of civil society in decision that effect our community”, says Gerald Berkel, CDS Chairman.
In a letter dated March 15th, Minister Koolmees responded positively to a joint letter from the Public Entity and the Central Dialogue Statia to exchange Carnival Monday in favour of making July 1st a public holiday.
In 2022 Emancipation Day will be formally recognized in the BES Labour Law as a public holiday. In the Centrale Dialogue STEBA, WICSU, St. Eustatius Chamber of Commerce, All 4 One, St. Eustatius Chamber of Commerce, SZW and the Public Entity St. Eustatius are represented.
In accordance with the Labour Law BES 2020 the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour makes a budget available to cover labour costs for workers in the private sector who due to the nature of the work they do will need to work on July 1st.