Vincy diaspora group celebrates International Migration Day

Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) President Justice Adrian Saunders (third from right) with award, flanked by St. Vincent and the Grenadines Consul General to the US, Howie Prince, and members of the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc.
Chateau Photography / Velda Ashton

The Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc. has joined the world in celebrating International Migration Day on Tuesday, Dec. 18.

International Migration Day was first declared by the United Nations in 2000.

Sherrill-Ann Mason Haywood, chairperson, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc., said her group is joining the rest of the world “to reflect on the role of migration and diaspora affairs in the development process of countries.”

She noted that current Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, said: “Migration is a powerful driver of economic growth, dynamism and understanding.

“It allows millions of people to seek new opportunities, benefiting communities of origin and destination alike,” Guterres said.

Mason Haywood said diaspora communities around the world have been making “sterling contributions to their host countries.

“Migrant communities are also making outstanding contributions to the countries of their birth,” she said. “The Vincentian diaspora is no different, showing its enormous potential to do more and greater deeds for its host countries and for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Notwithstanding these positive contributions, the life of immigrants or migrants is not without its challenges,” she added. “Increasingly, immigrants are fleeing their homes because of wars and environmental factors such as earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding and drought.

“Others are fleeing because of wars and economic factors as globalization impacts economies around the world,” Mason Haywood continued. “This has caused mass migration and disruptions in many countries. This mass migration has caused many destination countries to tighten their immigration laws and, in other instances, there has been a visible increase in anti-immigrant sentiments.

In quoting from the World Migration Report 2018, Mason Haywood said “international migration is a complex phenomenon that touches on a multiplicity of economic, social and security aspects affecting our daily lives in an increasingly interconnected world.”

She said the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc. recognizing these complexities, especially in the context of the Vincentian diaspora, “has taken on the challenge to help in working along with other Vincentian diaspora organizations to take Vincentian diaspora affairs to a higher level, especially in the USA.”

Eight years ago, Mason Haywood said the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc. “emerged out of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cultural Symposium Committee to focus on the follow-up to the SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) Diaspora Framework of Action, which was the outcome document of the Homecoming Conference of 2009.”

Over the past eight years of its existence, Mason Haywood said “the core focus” of the Diaspora Committee has been on public awareness about matters relating to migration, diaspora and development, in addition to “a focus on sports, culture and humanitarian efforts.”

“In that time, we have hosted a diaspora conference, several roundtable discussions, established a robust website, hosted Diaspora Week in SVG, launched two associations focused on sports and culture, established the SVG Heritage Awards and Sports Hall of Fame, and supported disaster relief efforts, athletes, and other organizations in SVG and in the USA.”

Most recent, in 2018, described as “a difficult year for the Diaspora Committee, we partnered with the Carnival Development Committee to host the launch of Vincy Mas in New York, donated computer equipment to the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, (and) awarded two 5-year academic scholarships to students in SVG,” Mason Haywood said.

She said the group, among other things, also launched the Maxwell Haywood Memorial Scholarship and Development Fund – named in honor of her husband, Maxwell Haywood, who died from cancer a year ago – with a public lecture delivered by President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Vincentian-born Justice Adrian Saunders on “The role and importance of the CCJ in advancing the Caribbean Civilization”.

“We greet International Migration Day 2018 full of enthusiasm and optimism that better must come,” Mason Haywood said. “We wish migrants around the world all the best in their endeavors. Our Motto is ‘As One People in Many Lands, We Shape our Nation with Many Hands.’”

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