Diplomats, Government Ministers and other officials joined Canadian High Commissioner Marie Legault at her official residence in St James last night for the celebration of Canada Day.
Governor General Dame Sandra Mason, Prime Minister Mia Mottley, and former President of the Senate Kerryann Ifill, were among the 500 invited guests who came to celebrate the Canada-Barbados relations.
Legault began by cheering the historic win of the Toronto Raptors over the Golden State Warriors to bring home the NBA Championship Trophy for the very first time, describing it as “probably our most significant accomplishment this year”.
Another reason to celebrate, she said, was that Canada Day coincided with the ban on the sale of single use plastics in Barbados, which took effect on July 1. “Changing is never easy. It is uncomfortable to do things differently when we are set in our ways. It is not easy at the manufacturing level, at the business level, and especially at the individual level, but it is the only way to save our planet.
“Do we really need straws to drink? Plastic bags to carry things? I cringe every time I see single use plastic around me and it is only in the most dire circumstances I will buy water in a plastic bottle. My behaviour has changed, my daughter’s behaviour even more so, and this increased level of consciousness about the seriousness of the situation gives me hope for the future,” Legault said.
She noted that more than 60 major countries worldwide have taken action to ban single use plastics, including the European Union, the United Kingdom, Kenya, India and Canada.
“Here in the Caribbean, Dominica was at the forefront, with the Bahamas and Jamaica soon after. I was very happy to see Barbados joining the group, banning importation as of last February, and effective July 1 the sale and distribution of it,” she said.
She also used the occasion to make a donation to two women’s charities, Jabez House and the Business and Professional Women’s Club, from the proceeds of a spontaneous fundraiser at the ‘Women Share’ conference hosted by the Canadian High Commission in May. A total of $5,400 was raised at the event.
“During the active discussions, one participant suggested doing something very concrete to support women in the country by putting $5 each on the table which everybody agreed to enthusiastically. Part of the sponsorship that was provided for the event by Chancery Chambers contributed to the fund. It was also followed by donations from CIBC/First Caribbean and from First Citizens whose CEOs Colette Delaney and Carole Jean-Marie – both women – were present at the [celebrations]. I am pleased to say that $5,400 was raised this way. The leaders of two charities centering on women were present… and therefore selected to benefit from that spontaneous action.”
Legault told the audience that gender equality and women’s empowerment remain priorities for Canada, which recently hosted the Women Deliver conference, a global movement to promote gender equality worldwide. “To illustrate our commitment, Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau announced that we would raise our funding to $1.4 billion annually, with half of it dedicated to sexual and reproductive rights. This, hopefully, will help to counter some of the repressive laws on abortion rights that are being put in place in some areas of the world recently, including the United States,” Legault stated. (MCW)