NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Bahamas welcomed high-level delegates to The 44th Regular Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, CARICOM, with expressions of Bahamian culture at Atlantis on Paradise Island.
The Official Opening Ceremony was held Wednesday, February 15, 2023 during which the Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, and Chair of CARICOM, delivered welcoming remarks to a packed Grand Ballroom.
“You visit us as we embark on celebrations for our 50th Anniversary of Independence. During these 50 years, we have steadily created every major institution in our country, defining ourselves as not merely as being independent to others but as free people determined to pursue our own path to fulfillment,” the prime minister said.
He encouraged delegates to find time to experience the islands of The Bahamas, its people and culture.
Music by the Rake ‘n’ Scrape ensemble Blaudy, was the prelude to the opening ceremony, which began with a Processional of the Heads of Government escorted by Student Leaders of public primary schools.
A spirited rendition of the National Anthem by Alia Coley met with thunderous approval from attendees, who were also impressed by the singing of the CARICOM Song by Wendi.
The National Children’s Choir performed a lively number, and the National Dance Company members gyrated, danced and pranced to Bahamian classics: ‘Pay me what You Owe Me’, and ‘Island Woman (making me forget who I am’) backed by world-renowned legendary Bahamian percussionist Peanuts Taylor.
Up next Lady E dazzled with her hit song ‘My Island in the Sun’ as her back-up dancers added to her performance in gold and black costumes.
A spunky act by the National Youth Choir of ‘Ya born dere’, and an exhilarating Junkanoo rush-out by Colours Entertainment rounded off the cultural display in true Bahamian fashion.
One of the highlights of the evening was the 13th CARICOM Triennial Award for Women, to the Rt. Hon. Dame Janet Bostwick. The Citation was read by Cierra Rahming, a 2022 Youth Parliamentarian.
Prime Minister Davis presented Dame Janet with a framed copy of the Citation, a commemorative trophy, and other gifts for her achievement.
The prime minister welcomed delegates from 20 Caribbean countries to address the region’s most pressing issues, namely the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, (CSME), food security, climate change, and the growing instability in Haiti.
Included were: Dr. Carla Barnett, Secretary General, CARICOM; the Right Hon. Justin Trudeau, PC, MP, Prime Minister of Canada; Brian Nichols, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs; John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate; senior government officials, and other dignitaries.
This year is a significant marker in the history of both The Bahamas and CARICOM. The Bahamas will mark 50 years of Independence on July 10, 2023. And the Caribbean Community and Common Market, referred to as CARICOM, came into being on July 4, 1973 with the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas in Trinidad & Tobago.