A virtual flag-raising ceremony was held at the OECS headquarters in Saint Lucia on Wednesday, October 27th 2021 to commemorate the event. The brief ceremony featured a recorded message from the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves; and an address by the Director General of the OECS, Dr. Didacus Jules. The national prayer was delivered by Pastor Dr. Franklin Bray of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Saint Lucia.
Prime Minister Gonsalves, in an address recorded for the occasion, reflected on the unique challenges of the past year brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the volcanic eruptions of April, 2021.
"Our nation, as a whole, has taken a monumental beating from the twin calamities of the pandemic and the cataclysmic force of nature. Every single family in our blessed nation has suffered, though not in equal measure, from the slings and arrows of misfortune not of our own making.
The poorest sections of the working people have endured real hardship despite our efforts of amelioration, but things could have been worse. We thank God for his mercies and his blessings even in our quite difficult situation," he shared.
Dr. Gonsalves thanked the regional family, the OECS, CARICOM, and all the regional institutions for their support to St. Vincent and the Grenadines thus far.
Speaking to Vincentian nationals at home and in the Diaspora, the Prime Minister highlighted the strength of the Vincentian people throughout history, stating:
"We have demonstrated our resilience and we have overcome multiple adversities in the past. This moment of challenge, this period of real peril, we will meet head on to build back better and stronger."
Addressing the virtual audience from the OECS Commission, Director General Jules commended the Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the swift and decisive actions taken to manage the crises of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, compounded by the catastrophic eruptions of the La Soufriere volcano, which severely impacted the lives and livelihoods of many.
At a regional level, the OECS Director General acknowledged that the health crisis continues to disrupt key economic sectors which Member States rely on, noting that, while swift and effective measures are being implemented to contain the disease, the severe economic impacts require bold and decisive action to mitigate the effects of job loss, dislocation and disruption caused by the pandemics and our multiple disasters.
"We at the Commission recognise the need to work closely with Member States to promote the well-being of their people and to safeguard the region's achievements and advances thus far," Dr. Jules stated.
The Commission commits to supporting St. Vincent and the Grenadines in its quest for fulfillment of the promise of independence and assures the Government and people of our commitment to assistance in continuing efforts to navigate and address the innumerable challenges of this unprecedented health and economic crisis.