Windward Islands celebrate Emancipation Day

Government Commissioner Alida Francis with a wreath of Flamboyant flowers. Photo: Public Entity St. Eustatius

ORANJESTAD/PHILIPSBURG- On Friday 1 July, the abolition of slavery was commemorated in the Windward Islands with the celebration of Emancipation Day.

Although 1 July has been an official day off on St. Maarten for some time, this has only been the case on St. Eustatius since this year.

Government Commissioner Alida Francis of St. Eustatius, during her speech spoke about the date of August 1 and what it means for those who have suffered under slavery. “I am bursting with pride because 367 years after the first slave arrived in Statia, 159 years after the abolition of slavery and five years after the island council of St. Eustatius adopted the motion, today we celebrate Emancipation Day for the very first time as an official holiday in Statia. our history,” said Francis.

Round table

Francis also looked back at the Round Table meeting recently held with the islands in the Netherlands on the subject.

“On June 27, as Government Commissioner, I had the privilege of being part of a Dutch Caribbean delegation that took part in a round table discussion on Dutch Slavery History in the Lower House of the National Government. The islands spoke with one voice and discussed different aspects of the Dutch slavery past, each with recommendations for the way forward.”

According to Francis, all present agreed that the Dialogue on Slavery and Emancipation should never be ignored as unimportant. “We agreed that these conversations should involve both the descendants of the slave owners and the descendants of African slaves.”

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