BY ALYSSA MAHADEO
It has been fifty-four years since the British flag was lowered and the red, white and black colours of Trinidad and Tobago’s independent nation graced the skies in solidarity.
On Wednesday, August 31st Trinidad and Tobago celebrated their independence bringing together citizens of the dual island from near and far to raise their flag and pay tribute to their Caribbean nation.
On that day in 1962, Trinidad and Tobago proclaimed its independence from Great Britain. Christopher Columbus discovered Trinidad in 1498. It was declared a Spanish colony and remained under Spanish rule until 1797 when it was captured by the UK. The Dutch colonized Tobago in the 16th century and over the centuries, it was ruled by Spain, Britain, France, the Netherlands and the Duchy of Courland.
In 1802, the United Kingdom and the French Republic signed the Treaty of Amiens. The islands were officially relinquished to Britain, but remained separate until 1889. In 1925, the first elections to the colony’s Legislative Council were held and in 1958, the UK established the Federation of West Indies. The federation collapsed on May 31st, 1962, and three months later Trinidad and Tobago proclaimed its independence.
Independence Day is one of the public holidays in Trinidad and Tobago. It is marked across the country with military parades, open-air performances, church services, awards ceremonies, carnival-themed parties and fireworks displays. While those citizens of the Trinbago diaspora here in Canada don’t get to capitalize on the holiday they did host flag raising ceremonies throughout city to mark the day and proudly stand together in unity.
The Trinidad and Tobago Association of Ontario hosted a flag raising ceremony at city hall in the heart of downtown Brampton, inviting members of the community to come out and share their well wishes and hopes for the country’s future. Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey was unable to be in attendance at the ceremony, however she sent a representative City Councilman Pat Fortini to give the community her regards.
The guest of honour, acting Consul General for Trinidad and Tobago Ms. Kiva Clarke was then invited to take the stage and deliver a few words from the Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago the honuorable Dr. Keith Rowley.
“Independence demands a clear vision; we will tackle our challenges head on taking care of every aspect of this country, our political and democratic institutions, our physical environment and most of all we have to take care of each other,” she shared. “Trinidad and Tobago is my home, it is your home and we all have a responsibility to protect, to cherish and to make this country the kind of home which we can all be proud.”
The ceremony concluded with the singing of the National anthem as the flag was raised and all of Trinidad and Tobago’s citizens stood at attention watching their nation soar in its independence.