Trinidad and Tobago Independence Day was commemorated at Queens Borough Hall for the very first time, and expatriates applauded their accomplishments, during a Citations of Honors presentation, on Sept. 12 in the Helen Marshall Cultural Center.
They are: Nazir Rahaman, US military vet, opened three stores, named ‘Numbers’ providing jobs for his community. The Cricket Team founder was lauded for his outstanding hard work in the community.
Fred Mahabir is a wounded US Army war vet who served in Vietnam. Also known as DJ Freddy, he promoted Trinidad artistes in the US. He was also an assistant vice president for a banking institution.
Judge Karen Gopee, who immigrated to the US at age one, is the first Trinidad-American criminal judge. She served as Judge Calabrese’s court attorney for many years playing a critical role. She established a program that recommended drug treatment instead of jail time. Judge Gopee also forged community partnerships that brought opportunities to local youth, to bridge the gap between the police and the community.
Allison Alexis is an eight-year breast cancer survivor, and founder of the Annual Queens Cancer Walk in Richmond Hill. She also stated Angels of Hope, a support group for cancer survivors.
She hosted her 6th Annual Queens Cancer Walk on Sept. 14, in Smokey Park Oval, that raised awareness and funds to fight for survivors, including women and men of all ages.
DJ Darryl “D-Life” Payne is world-renowned deejay, formerly of Hot 97 FM and 107.5 WBLS. He is a music producer who helped to create the movement behind the cutting-edge Soca fusion sound. He also promoted the music of Soca artistes, Allison Hinds, Machel Montano, Kevin Little, Rupee, and Bunji Garland among others.
In 2007 he became the first deejay to release a Soca album on a major US label. He can now be heard on SiriusXM radio, via the www.thewo
Wendy Kamal started dancing, at age 7. She is the founder of Wendy and David Dance Academy Inc. of South Ozone Park.
While praising Trinidadians for their contributions, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, said her office takes great pride in its diversity and works every day to make dreams come true for families in the borough.
BP Katz, who was accompanied to the platform by the Blazing Rhythms Tassa Group, felt it was meaningful to celebrate the 57th Independence Anniversary in the people’s house — Borough Hall.
She reminded the gathering that they were in the Helen Marshall Cultural Center, named after the previous borough president of Guyanese parentage, “who also understood that celebrating our diversity makes us stronger every day.”
“Our culture comes from our countries. We respect our parents and their traditions and religions, and we are assimilating into the United States of America. It is the differences that our parents bring to this country that makes Queens the great place that it is.”
“I am proud to celebrate your independence with you, and proud that you have allowed us to be a part of your tradition and your holidays,” said BP Katz who praised award recipients for their outstanding contributions in Queens, where natives of 190 countries speak 200 languages, and celebrate at Borough Hall.
Assemblyman, David Weprin, also applauded the honorees, stating, that his office serves a very large immigrant community.
Consul General of Trinidad & Tobago to New York, Jerome Andre Laveau, greeted the gathering with “Happy Independence Day,” and noted that it was a great gesture by BP Melinda Katz to host the Independence celebration.
“I am astounded at how well our nationals of Trinidad & Tobago are in exporting our culture and way of life across the world.
“When you travel, you wonder what about us that fascinates people outside of Trinidad and Tobago. You are our ambassadors who project the best of who we are. I salute the honorees for their work in spreading our culture,” said CG Laveau.
Thanks to the coordinating committee, the evening’s presentation that commenced with invocations and singing of the national anthems of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States by Evana Labban, and hosted by Rosannah Deonarine, truly showcased the twin-island that Ravi Ramkeesoon, in his synopsis, lauded as a leader in energy, one of the world’s richest per capita.
“A country with one of the world’s most diverse cultures, capable of inventing the steel pan, the only acoustic instrument invented in the 20th Century, to Nicki Minaj and Nobel Laureate, V.S Naipaul,” he shared.
Trinidad and Tobago, which became an independent nation on Aug. 31, 1962, was commemorated with a Colors Honor Guard by the NYPD Auxiliary Ceremonial Unit, choreography by the Wendy and David Ali, Dance Academy, and Soca and Calypso medley by Sassy, Joey, and David Ramoutar of Legend Session Band.
Mahamed Hack of Queens Borough Hall officiated, while Sassy Ramoutar and Raquel Shivdat made the closing remarks.