St. Vincent & Grenadines Association celebrates 44th independence day anniversary
Saturday 4 November 2023
A Celebration of St. Vincent and the Grenadines at 44 in Ottawa
By Joy Osiagwu
The stunning glamour and resilience of Vincentians permeated the atmosphere of the Prime
Venue Banquet Centre on Prince of Wales Drive Ottawa, Saturday, November 4, as the crème
de la crème of Ottawa and Toronto converged for a night of glitz and entertainment.
The occasion was the celebration of the 44th anniversary of the Independence of St. Vincent
and the Grenadines by St. Vincent and the Grenadines Association of Ottawa (SVGAO), under
the patronage of Fitzgerald Huggins, the Consul General of the island nation in Toronto.
The well-planned evening hosted by Marion Duncan, a third-year student at Algonquin College,
was an avenue to celebrate and inspire members of the African, Caribbean, and Black
communities in Canada to break barriers and “never give up on dreams, no matter how big the
The quote was the opening soundbite of the keynote Speaker and Member of the Provincial
Parliament for Scarborough-Guildwood, Andrea Hazell, a Canadian of Vincentian heritage
who “walked the vibrant streets of St. Vincent and the Grenadines” to Canada to take the
limit off her peak.
Her testimony was an inspirational story of “humble beginnings to stardom.” Hazell gave up
her annual salary job to chase her passion for the community, which led to her journey to
Queens Park in July 2023.
She emphasized the importance of hard work, resilience, and support for small businesses,
which are the backbone of the Canadian economy. “Hard work and consistency got me here- it
took blood, sweat, and tears to become an MPP; what you know as a glass ceiling was a
cement ceiling for me, but I shattered it”, she noted.
MPP Hazell commended the SVGAO for consistently celebrating and upholding the values of
the island nation described as the gel of the Caribbean because of its vibrant tapestry of history, culture, and beauty.
Similarly, the Consul-General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Toronto, Fitzgerald Huggins,
commended all Vincentians in Canada and the Diaspora for their unwavering commitment to
the home country’s development over the years. He remarked that the government is “pushing
hard” to lift the visa restriction to ensure free movement for Vincentians visiting Canada.
The president of the Association, Suzette Small-Weekes, congratulated all Vincentians as they
celebrate another year under the theme: “Our Resilience, Our Fortitude, Our People, Our
Identity- Road to 45.” She encouraged Vincentians to remain resolute in moving forward, despite previous challenges with volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Weekes enumerated various projects in association with the SVGA branches across Canada to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the people.
City Councillor Rawlson King of Vincentian descent celebrated his country of origin and paid
tribute to the impressive work of the SVGAO and the resilience of the Diaspora, which
contributes immensely to the rich cultural life and fabric of the city of Ottawa. Councillor King
applauded the election of the first Vincentian MPP, Adrea Hazell. He noted that getting more
African Caribbean and Black people into such leadership positions would augur well for policies
that take cognizance of Black Lives Matter, citing examples of the anti-racism Secretariat and
the social procurement policy that came to fruition courtesy of a voice on the leadership table
for Black people.
The night was not about speeches; guests sipped, savored, and enjoyed intermittent good
musical performances from Samantha Chris Francois, JR the Artiste, and Skarpyon.
Black Ottawa Scene Editor, Godwin Ifedi’s special honor as the 2023 Community Investor
Appreciation Award recipient was the highlight of the evening. The 2023 Volunteer Award
went to Avilla Ollivierre, while Keziah Alexis and Delson Thomas were the 2023 Scholarship
The community came through for SVGAO. From the African Canadian Association of Ottawa to
the Ottawa Global Alliance, St. Kitts and Nevis Association, Jamaican Ottawa Community
Association, Black Ottawa Scene, to Black History Ottawa, depicting a willingness to support
and build a strong Black community in the Canadian capital region.
Click on the link to watch the video highlights of the event.