Coming together

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart addressing the opening of the Barbados Network Consultation today.

by Emmanuel Joseph

A large contingent of Barbadians and their descendants from around the globe are in Barbados for the second Network Consultation, which was officially opened at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this morning.

The BNC is coordinated by the Council for Investment, Exports, Foreign Exchange and the Diaspora, which has as a priority, deepening of the relationship with the Barbadian Diaspora.

Barbadians resident aboard and those at home had taken up the challenge to come together here to explore the several ways in which they could expand their familial, social and economic network, and build social and financial capital.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, extended a special welcome to a group of Cubans and Panamanians of Barbadian descent, who were in the island of their fore parents, some, for the first time.

The focus of this year’s conference was on the youth, and hence the theme: “Linking Generations, Embracing Our Youth”.

Mclean told those attending the opening ceremony, including Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and other parliamentarians, that the forum was intended to be a catalyst for engaging the youth.

“It provides the opportunity to contribute to the development of Barbados, while providing an unprecedented opportunity in which inter-generational ties may be forged,” she added.

Mclean noted that the theme spoke to all generations — those passing the baton and those receiving it. The minister suggested that the baton being passed, was in the form of collective wisdom, knowledge and experience and was being received by highly energised and innovative world citizens.

There are some changes to this year’s consultation, which include making many of the events more interactive and more hands-on. Among these were workshops on Ancestry Research, where participants can equip themselves with a basic knowledge of how to trace their family history. Even more interactive and physically exerting, was the road tennis demonstrations.

There were also the booth of the National Sports Council and the Barbados Road Tennis Association, a Cultural Immersion session, focusing this year on cooking the Bajan way, a Creative Economy Showcase highlighting the creative industries of Barbados, an exhibition of local goods and services, a career forum and an awards and recognition reception.

Other activities included the Barbadian American Cancer Society and the Barbados Diaspora Collaborative, USA presentation on plans to build a hospice in Barbados.

One of the youth leaders from the Barbadian Diaspora in Britain also addressed the gathering. Venessa Denny, the daughter of Barbadian John Denny who migrated to England in the 1950s, is Chair of Barbados Forward Thinkers, a group that celebrates the work and culture of young Barbadians in Britain.

Denny said the group, which sought to collaborate and network with other members of the Diaspora across the world, focused on research, education, culture, heritage and business. She also indicated that the young professionals in the Diaspora were interested in investing in Barbados.

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