MESSAGE BY DR. THE HONOURABLE NATALIO D. WHEATLEY
MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, CULTURE, YOUTH AFFAIRS, FISHERIES AND AGRICULTURE
VIRGIN ISLANDS DAY CELEBRATION
MONDAY, JULY 5, 2021
Good day and God’s blessings to the people of the Virgin Islands. On Monday, July 5th 2020, we will be celebrating for the very first time Virgin Islands Day. Following the advice of the BVI Public Holidays Review Committee, Cabinet decided on 2nd December 2020 that Territory Day would be replaced by Virgin Islands Day.
Territory Day came about when the Colony of the Leeward Islands was dissolved and the Virgin Islands became a stand-alone Colony of the United Kingdom on 1st July 1956. Before 1978 the holiday was named, “Colony Day”; it was thought that “Territory” was a more appropriate name than “Colony.” As a stand-alone Colony, the Virgin Islands legislature could then make laws for itself rather than having laws imposed on it by a federal legislature; therefore, this change represented greater autonomy for our legislature.
The shift from “Territory Day” to now “Virgin Islands Day” reflects a renewed sense of national consciousness and represents an effort to assert our unique identity as Virgin Islanders. It is a recognition that as Virgin Islanders that are a part of the Caribbean family, we have a distinct and separate culture and history that have shaped us to who we are today.
In our efforts to become a more self-determined people, Cabinet approved new holidays from this year moving forward, such as Heroes Day in October and 1949 March and Restoration Day in November. We will use these days to continue to celebrate our heroes, our political autonomy, certain events in our history, our past legislators, and the like.
The addition of these new holidays provides us with the opportunity, with the newly named Virgin Islands Day, to celebrate these Virgin Islands and its people—those with ancestral ties and those who have integrated into our community and assimilated our identity. Virgin Islands Day is about our families and communities; it is about our culture; it is about developing and supporting our economy; it is about appreciating, caring for, and enjoying our environment. Virgin Islands Day is about all things Virgin Islands.
A wonderful way to acknowledge this day is wearing your Territorial Wear, with all its wonderful, diverse, and creatively designed outfits. We can also wear our Virgin Islands patriotic t-shirts from our various t-shirt printing companies along with our Virgin Islands branded apparel.
We can organise family or community based events. For instance, this year we see the return of Fisherman’s Day*, traditionally held on what was known as Territory Day. This has been organised by members of the community on the eastern end of the island with sponsorship from individuals, businesses, members of the House of Assembly, and the department of Agriculture and Fisheries. This is an example of an activity that can be held to celebrate Virgin Islands Day.
This year we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, so we must all remain cautious and vigilant. Please wear your masks, sanitise, and socially distance. Only participate in events where there are strict protocols which are enforced and respected. Avoid activities where there is crowding and where transmission of the virus is likely.
On behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Agriculture, Fisheries, and Youth Affairs and Sports, I wish you all a very happy and safe Virgins Islands Day! God bless you and protect you!
* Please note that Fisherman's Day was cancelled after the recording of this message.