A group of persons from across the globe yesterday received their Barbadian citizenship documentation in the full knowledge that they are now officially a piece of this island’s fabric and are expected to play their part as responsible citizens.
Officials at the induction ceremony in the Horatio Cooke Auditorium of the National Union of Public Workers, Dalkeith, made clear this expectation while welcoming the island’s newest citizens.
Pastor Eric Peters of the Power in the Blood Assembly set the tone as he blessed the event and prayed that, “Barbados would not be made to conform to strangers but strangers will conform to Barbados because they found this a place where they can live, call a home.”
Of the 64 brand new Barbadians who hailed from 18 countries, 46 are from the Caribbean with 24 originating from Guyana. Others coming from Caribbean nations include ten Jamaicans, five St Lucians, five Vincentians, and one each from Grenada, Dominica, Antigua, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Those from farther afield amounted to four from Canada, two from the UK, two from India, and one each from Germany, Croatia, The Philippines, Poland, Italy, the US, and Ukraine.
“Diversity is here,” quipped Home Affairs Minister Edmund Hinkson, who went on to say in his feature address, “Citizenship while it carries a privilege, also carries responsibilities like anything else in life that carries privileges.”
Hinkson associated with the group and asserted himself as ‘a full CARICOM citizen’ because his mother is Guyana born. In stressing the importance of staying within the laws of Barbados he said, “Even though my mom is Guyanese I wasn’t afraid and had no doubts about sending out some Guyanese last year this time who were breaking the laws of Barbados. I got cussed for it but did it because you have to obey the law.”
To these brand new Barbadians, he said, “We look forward to you taking part in all the national discourse and national aspects of our society and economy because that’s what helps make Barbados the country it is.”
In welcoming the new citizens, Chief Immigration Officer, Wayne Marshall, said Barbados has been blessed with a rich culture and traditions built by those born here, “and by cultures and traditions brought by a constant infusion of new people from all over the world”.
He noted that many of the citizenship inductees left their homelands and family and “had to adjust to a new culture and a new way of life, and for some, even learning a new language. You joined the society and added your imagination, creativity, innovation, culture, language and experiences and so much more to ours… You are also adding your strength of character, your story of origin to our own, further boosting our community.
“You will now take on the responsibility of a citizen of Barbados. You are going to help to define what it is to be a Barbadian.”
He pointed out that a number of the inductees have lived here for many years, “and they’re already Barbadian at heart”. He said that through the ceremony all 64 persons have acquired a “citizenship [that] is valued all over the world”.
As an example, he indicated that the Barbadian passport, “is a world-ranking passport, which ranked at 24th with respect for the number of countries for visa-free travel for its citizens. And Barbadian citizens have visa-free access to 143 countries.”
“It is an accomplishment to become a Barbadian citizen,” he said, adding, “Today, at the end of the ceremony, you will gain stability and independence.” (GA)