It is now one year since the territorial symbols were unveiled to the public, and it was announced this week that some persons in the BVI are still unaware of these important emblems.
The announcement was made by Dr. Allison Flax-Archer, Secretary General of the BVI National Commission for UNESCO during a radio announcement of the plans for the 2014 observance of Territory Day.
Dr. Flax-Archer, and Fifth District Representative, and Chair of Committee to celebrate Territory Day, Hon. Delores Christopher were guests on the Speak out BVI radio program on Tuesday 24 June. It was during that program that the BVI UNESCO Secretary General shared her observation about the lack of knowledge of the symbols.
Mrs. Flax-Archer said: “Do you know that there are still persons that live in the Virgin Islands that do not know what our signs and symbols are? There are some people that are still debating over what our local dish is, so once again those signs and symbols of the Virgin Islands are going to be highlighted and this is important because until able to get it embedded, get it through the educational system and they are doing a fantastic job of letting the students know what these things are, it will never carry through”.
The territorial symbols were unveiled to the public on 1 July 2013 at a ceremony that was held in observance of Territory Day at the Noel Lloyd Positive Actions Movement Park.
Prior to his unveiling of the symbols Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walwyn told the gathering: “It is important that as a community we unite behind the identity of the Virgin Islands. Today’s presentation will highlight the significance of signs and symbols that embody the experience of generations of Virgin Islanders. These signs and symbol will formally represent who we are as a people at home and in the international community.”
The Culture Minister stated that in addition to the Territorial Dress and the territorial song “Oh Beautiful Virgin Islands” which were both adopted on 24 July 2012, the Territory now has “a territorial tree which is the White Cedar; and Hon. Walwyn explained that the White Cedar was once used to make the famous Virgin Islands sloops. The territorial flower is the White Cedar Flower born from the territorial tree. The Territorial Bird remains the Turtle Dove. The Territorial Dish is Fungi and Fish which represents the fishing culture of our forefathers.
Fungi music is the official music of the territory. Hon. Walwyn said that it represents a cook up of sounds that is bedded in the musical style of African slaves. The BVI also has a territorial gift, which is a miniature version of a traditional Virgin Islands sloop — a boat that is synonymous with the Virgin Islands and is also represented on the territorial dress.”
The gathering was informed that the territorial colours are Yellow – representing the rising sun; Green – representing our verdant hills; Blue – reflecting our beautiful Caribbean Sea; White – reflecting our beautiful beaches; and; Red – representing the feisty nature of the Virgin Islands people.
It was disclosed that the territorial symbols were born from a survey that was done in 2009 and later commissioned in 2012. The survey was done by a group cultural stalwarts in the community. The findings of the survey was later approved by Cabinet and unveiled as the Territorial symbols. As such the Minister announced that the symbols represent the views and wishes of the people.
During the Territory Day ceremony the Ministry also presented copies of the draft culture policy for the public to peruse and give opinion on.