BVI Governor John Duncan, Governor de Jongh, Premier of the BVI Dr. Orlando Smith and Mrs. Smith upon the arrival of the BVI delegation to St. Thomas Saturday for the annual USVI / BVI Celebration.
Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. and First Lady Cecile de Jongh welcomed a delegation of almost 100 persons from the British Virgin Islands to the annual USVI/BVI celebration, hosted on St. Thomas Saturday.
The delegation, led by BVI Governor John Duncan and Premier of the British Virgin Islands Dr. Orlando Smith, were greeted by steel pan entertainment as they arrived at the St. Thomas waterfront and later walked across to Emancipation Garden for a cultural fair and various presentations as the two territories celebrated their historic ties and joint future. “Today we honor many years of friendship and the shared heritage that links our two great jurisdictions together. Truly we celebrate the ties that bind us,” de Jongh said.
“Although this special holiday is just 42 years old, the relationship between our two island groups spans thousands of years. There's no doubt that many of our families are the same and that individuals have moved back and forth between both jurisdictions for work, healthcare, education and family responsibilities. In both Virgin Islands, many of our residents are direct descendants from emancipated slaves, who built their lives on agriculture, fishing, and basic trades. Over the years, communities were established with schools, churches and necessary government services. Our populations have grown, along with our economies,” de Jongh said in remarks prepared for the event.
After a breakfast at Grand Hotel, the BVI delegation was treated to a walking tour that highlighted the many ties that bind the people of the two territories: history, religion and day to day practices. The Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School Flambo Combo entertained at Emancipation Garden, the final stop which featured an arts and crafts and cultural fair.
“I know that our two jurisdictions have established and maintained an excellent working relationship that allows us to effectively deal with common issues, such as law enforcement, boundaries, fishing, and more. It is a mark of our special kinship that we can deal with such issues and policy decisions in a straight-forward and open manner. I feel blessed to have been an integral part of such a unique and special relationship, and hope that my efforts since becoming Governor in 2007 have further strengthened the bond between the British Virgin Islands and the United States Virgin Islands,” de Jongh said Saturday.
And the Governor took note that this is the last time he will co-host the friendship day activities. “I am especially pleased that this year's celebration is occurring in the United States Virgin Islands, where we can showcase our hospitality. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to both the residents of the British Virgin Islands and the United States Virgin Islands for providing me with this singular privilege for the last eight years. More than we can express, Cecile and I have been honored and humbled to represent the United States Virgin Islands at the Friendship Day celebrations. These celebrations will remain vivid and wonderful memories for us for years to come.” As we rejoice in our friendship, let us remember that common values, history, heritage, proximity and economics have brought us together and will always keep us close,” de Jongh said.