Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steve Blackett

The Community Independence Celebrations Secretariat (CICS) recently conducted a review of its independence celebrations in an effort to revitalise the 14-year-old programme.   

The session, which involved community leaders, former participants in the programme, officials of the Ministry of Community Development and Culture and staff of the CICS was held at the St. Leonard’s Boys’ School.

The closed-door session focused on the strengths and weaknesses of the community independence programme and offered recommendations to improve its performance.

Discussions centred on several areas, including: ‘The Parish Ambassadors Programme’; ‘The Standards of Community Independence’; ‘Community Participation and Volunteerism’; ‘The Election Process for Parish Independence Committees’; ‘Unearthing Community Talent’; ‘The Community and the Environment’ and ‘The Spirit of the Nation Show’.

In his brief remarks, Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steve Blackett, stressed that the review process was critical if the celebrations were to remain relevant to the communities and the programme was to become sustainable.
While he acknowledged that there was a marked decrease in community participation in the independence activities in recent times, Mr. Blackett said his ministry remained committed to reversing this decline.

“Since community involvement is integral to the programme, it is imperative that we again focus on improving community participation, and that we do so with renewed vigour,” the Minister remarked.

He also expressed concern about the declining sense of community spirit in Barbados, where selfish interests and greed were replacing good home-grown values.
“Regrettably, these ideals are becoming increasingly rare. Their absence, the diminished sense of community, of caring and of giving back, the growing addiction to the pursuit of selfish interests, has resulted in unprecedented suffering…”

He, therefore, called on all Barbadians to develop a greater community spirit, a better understanding of nationality and independence, which would augur well for the future.

During their deliberations, some of the participants echoed the sentiments of Minister Blackett, citing the lack of a spirit in the communities. They also expressed concern about some aspects of the independence programme. However, there were several positive responses.

Among them was the contribution of the programme to the personal development of parish ambassadors and, in this regard, the participants recognised government’s valuable input into the 14-year-old celebrations.

In addition, the stakeholders urged more persons to give back to their communities, thus increasing community involvement in the activities. They also called on the public to take advantage of the training opportunities offered by the Secretariat. 

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