Barbadians at home and abroad who plan to participate in the Barbados Network Consultation (BNC) 2012 will have the opportunity to delve into the records of the Archives Department and trace their roots.
This was revealed yesterday by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, at the press launch of the BNC 2012, which took place at her Ministry’s headquarters on Culloden Road.
Also referred to as the 2nd Diaspora Conference, the BNC 2012 is scheduled to take place immediately after this island’s festive Crop Over season from August 7 to 10.
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Minister McClean revealed that the BNC was birthed from a vision of late Prime Minister, David Thompson. According to her, "it was his objective to fully engage Barbadians, wherever they are".
She praised the involvement of the Archives Department in the initiative, stating:??"I think that the effort to involve that office is one that arm-chair historians like myself, would enjoy. It provides an opportunity to trace your family lineage and ties, and to understand who and where your family came from in Barbados."
Stating that while it was not possible to provide a definitive number of Barbadians in the diaspora, she estimated that 60,000 lived in the United Kingdom; 55,000 resided in the United States of America, and about 20,000 lived in Canada.
However, she was quick to point out that those figures referred to persons who were born primarily in Barbados as opposed to the full diaspora of 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation Barbadians who were born outside the country.
The Foreign Affairs Minister spoke of the immense pleasure that could be garnered by tracing one’s family roots. Pointing to US Attorney General and Barbadian descendant, Eric Holder’s first official visit to the island, she recalled: "Through the initiative of a young person who was into research, I was able to present Mr. Holder with a copy of his father’s birth certificate.?? It was a very emotional moment for him, because, while he may have visited the country as a young boy, he never held in his hands a document which said his father was born here."
Emphasising that the BNC 2012 "would give [everyone involved] a chance to expand their social network, broaden their horizons and capitalise on opportunities", she further remarked, "I believe that this is an occasion in which much can be garnered at the individual level and the country level."
Stating that Barbadians in Canada, the US, the UK, Europe and the Caribbean are encouraged to attend the Conference, she disclosed that efforts have also been made to engage the diaspora in Panama, Cuba and South America.