Presenting a live broadcast of the Independence Day Ceremony that will take place at Windsor Park Sports Stadium on Friday, November 3, 2017 starting at 9:00 a.m. AST (UTC-4). If you do not see video below, click here.
Commonwealth of Dominica
Address by Dr. Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit
Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica
On the occasion of Dominica’s the Anniversary of Independence
“We are still standing”
November 3, 2017
Windsor Park Stadium
We are still standing
Fellow Dominicans….You are still standing!!
A sea of weeping, crashed through our defenses;
Yet, we are still standing!
We faced the fiercest floods, the most ferocious winds;
But we are still standing!
We are sorrow-stricken; we swallow hard, but it still catches in our throat;
And we are still standing!
Difficulties envelope every aspect of life, uncertainties swirl;
And we are still standing!
The outside world wondered aloud whether this is the kind of devastation from which you don’t recover. We are still standing. Tall! Waitukubuli!
We, the children of Dominica, have shown the world that disaster is finite; but, hope is infinite!
Maria stole everything money can buy, everything you can put a price on; but left what you cannot but… that which is priceless! We will determine the value of those things through our actions in coming days and weeks.
A moment comes, but rarely in history, when a nation’s soul is revealed.
How we respond to this moment, will define us, will make us; will become us.
In this solemn moment, let us all, Dominicans who reside here or abroad…
Let us choose today to renew our pledge to the service of Dominica, her people and to all humanity.
Let us together renew our pledge to fight poverty and ignorance; build a prosperous, progressive nation; and to invest in institutions that safeguard justice and opportunity for all.
Our nation’s doubters will say what is the point of such a small country having such high ambition at such a low time like this? We say that the measure of the greatness of a nation is not its size or what it aims for in comfort, but what it strives for in crisis.
When on the morning of September 19th I walked from Morne Daniel to St Aroment, passed through Goodwill and around Roseau, I witnessed total destruction. I saw corrugated iron mangled and tossed aside, with everything else as if we had been ransacked by a giant burglar! I sensed uncertainty spiraling. I smelled fear. I also breathed in the deep indefatigable determination of the vast majority of our people to carry on and stand up.
When faced with grave danger humans have evolved an instinct to fight or flee. We chose to fight! We chose to rise!
Those who may at first have fled, will return to join the fight as they did after Hurricane David and Tropical Storm Erika. Sometimes it takes a crisis to remind everyone of the importance of our journey.
Remember, you only see the stars clearly at the darkest hour!
Ladies and Gentlemen, on this our Independence Day, Dominica stands forth…. On the edge of a great triumph to come…; On the edge of a triumph not just for Dominica but for the world!
The disaster visited upon us has shown in so many ways how we are not an island onto ourselves. We are not an isolated fragment of humanity floating in the Caribbean Sea. Humanity is tightly knit.
The industrialisation of others warmed the seas and brought hell and fury down upon us but we will not be helpless victims of this world. Humanity’s development has shaped ours; and our response must help to shape Humanity’s course.
It will be a measure of the maturity of our independence of its meaningfulness if we are brave enough and wise enough to accept that the challenge of our time is global warming and climate change.
We must therefore grasp the opportunity to make a difference to the world to shine a light onto the right path for our planet. We do not lightly choose to rebuild better or to build the first climate resilient nation in the Anthropocene. The message has found us. We understand the task. We shall rebuild so as to bring a new hope into being for humanity. We must! We will!
Our tryst with humanity’s destiny is not a chance thing. Our commitment to the preservation and nourishment of our natural environment is second to none on this planet! Who better to restore the rainforest, protect the seas, and to know intimately with what ferocity we need to build against?
We have set out our plans to you the people. We have divided the task into immediate relief economic recovery and climate resilient rebuilding.
Having a plan has allowed us to galvanise the support and assistance of the international community. The task is formidable. We have lost an estimated 200% of our GDP and our goal is to rebuild better not just to replace what was lost. We must use the opportunity to move quickly to 100 % resilient and renewable energy.
We must rebuild almost all of our schools and clinics in a smart, climate resilient way.
We must build new roads bridges and put in place slope interventions. We must coordinate our rebuilding so that our cables run underground alongside this new infrastructure.
We must renew Roseau… its sea and river defences.
We must support the rebuilding of five thousand new homes.
We must reorient our agriculture to ensure food security for us and those dependent on us; and more,
We will establish, the Climate Resilient Economic Agency of Dominica, (CREAD), a new institution to support the rapid implementation of our plans once they are funded.
Following visits to Washington, New York, London and Brussels over the last few weeks over 50% of our funding is coming together. Additionally, we will be presenting our plans to a Partners Conference in New York later in the month to help raise part of the rest.
We will support the private sector as it rebuilds and restores. We will facilitate insurance payouts the importation of rebuilding materials the forbearance of lenders and clamp down on price gouging.
For the balance of the resources we are pursuing innovative financial instruments that link the restoration of the rain forests and protection of our marine environment to new resources for rebuilding. It will require careful, thoughtful, strategic planning carried out at lightning speed, because we do not have the luxury of time.
It will take unity of purpose.
It will take courage,
It will take fearlessness.
It will take incessant striving.
It will take every single Dominican to join the fight to feel its fierce urgency.
It will also require a resoluteness of character.
This is no time for ill-will. No time for petty and destructive criticism.
We must be indivisible! We must have a high indifference to those who want to pull us down to their low level to distract us with childish nuisances.
As a great man said, no nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought and action. Darkness cannot drive out darkness!
Fellow Dominicans, here and abroad, the time has come to redeem our past pledges to our nation and to our brothers and sisters. Let us not betray November 3rd, 1978.
Our future beckons to us!
If we are true to our path great triumphs await us;
Our actions will become a history that others will write;
Let it be a history that rouses the hearts of future generations;
….that forges a steel within them that will never be bent.
Today, we light a torch in our minds in memory of those taken from us in solidarity with those struck hard here and across the Caribbean.
Our sights are set high, but we know the rocks in the road.
….and as we slip, stumble and stride…we move forward and
….We shall NEVER let that torch be blown out;
… however high the winds!
I call upon you, Dominicans, friends and well-wishers…, to join us on this journey! Join us with faith and confidence on this fateful and grand adventure!
Dominica’s star rises; Let it never set!
Happy Independence, Dominica!!
May God bless you.
May God bless our families.
May God bless Dominica.
I thank you!