Sixty-four persons, some of whom were residing in Barbados for over 20 years, today moved from being just ‘Bajan at heart’ to becoming legal Barbadians.
Men and women of various ages, who are married to Barbadians, swore and affirmed an oath, as well as recited the National Pledge of Barbados, before receiving their documentation at a Citizenship Induction Ceremony held at the Horatio Cooke Complex, National Union of Public Workers headquarters.
The receipt of documentation will now permit those 64 spouses from 18 countries, including several CARICOM states, the United States, Britain, Italy, Ukraine, Philippines and Croatia, to obtain a Barbados Identification Card and a Barbados Passport. They are also entitled to all other legal rights afforded to persons born in Barbados.
In his address, Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson, congratulated the inductees on becoming the newest citizens of Barbados.
“On behalf of the Government of Barbados, we salute you for choosing Barbados as your domicile… and for your commitment and dedication as you have demonstrated in completing your path to citizenship,” he stated.
Mr. Hinkson pointed out the importance of Barbadian citizenship, noting that it was in Chapter 2 of the Constitution of Barbados, the highest form of law in this country, and in other legislation, namely the Immigration and Citizenship Acts.
The Minister of Home Affairs acknowledged that while citizenship was a privilege, it also carried responsibilities. He encouraged those receiving citizenship “to take part in all the national discourse and aspects of our society and our economy, that is what help makes Barbados the country it is”.
Chief Immigration Officer, Wayne Marshall, said attaining Barbadian citizenship was an ‘outstanding achievement’ and declared: “It is an accomplishment to become a Barbadian citizen and I want to acknowledge the struggles and the hardships that were necessary for so many of them to make it here today and to go through the path to citizenship.”
Mr. Marshall highlighted that the inductees could add value to the country by contributing positively to the Barbadian society, stating: “You joined the society and added imagination, creativity, innovation, culture, language and experiences and so much more to ours, and the outcome is not only what we call citizenship, you’re also adding your strength of character, your story of origin to our own, further boosting our community.”
Speaking to two of Barbados’ newest citizens and asking how they felt about becoming legally Barbadian, John Finlayson, originally from Scotland said, “Fantastic, it is an honour, something that has been in the works for me for a long time and I’m very happy.”
Deidre Ishmael of Dominica, who has been living in Barbados for over 24 years and married to a Barbadian for 15 years, said, “[It is] wonderful, Barbados is home”.
She went on to express how thankful and extremely proud she was of the way the Barbadian public rallied and supported Dominicans after the Hurricane Maria crisis in 2017.
Immigration Officer, Tricia Layne, had some words of encouragement for the new Barbadian citizens.
“Get actively involved, do not stand on the sidelines as just passive observers but write your name on our history’s page. In ten days… please join in the pomp and pageantry as we celebrate 53 years of Independence… and from today if anyone should ask, you can stand and boldly say with confidence: ‘I iz uh Bajan, doh’!”