Kamla – As we celebrate Indian Arrival Day, let us rekindle the courage of our Forefathers to build a better nation
I join the national community in offering Indian Arrival Day greetings to the citizens of our nation. This significant event which changed the course of our history has also added to our beautiful diverse culture and enriched our unique heritage.
Indian Arrival Day is not simply about the arrival of a group of people but rather the commemoration of a story of strength and determination which evolved over many years of struggle to success.
This special day honours the journey the ancestors of our East Indian brothers and sisters made in 1845, while it celebrates the endurance as well as accomplishments the East Indian community has achieved within our national framework in the past 174 years.
The story of these indentured servants is a story of colonial exploitation as well as hardship and sacrifice, but their legacy lives on in an undeniable way.
We remember the sacrifices our ancestors made, we learn from them and we continue to work towards creating a brighter and more prosperous future.
On this day it is important that we appreciate the life-defining qualities which have been passed down from generation to generation by our first East Indian Brothers and sisters. The qualities of discipline, respect for all, the value of hard work, the need for education and the importance of the family unit are the values which have ensured that this community propelled itself from Indentureship to produce individuals who have become successful in the fields of education, sport, art, medicine, law and politics within Trinidad and Tobago.
As we mark this important event in our nation’s history, we must also acknowledge those who came from other countries and regions, including Africa, Asia, China, Europe and the Middle East.
History would show us that we all came on different ships, but our present circumstances demonstrate that we are all in the same boat now.
We pay tribute to our First Peoples as well, the originators of our country, who have borne tremendous trials and have endured throughout the centuries and continue to sustain their traditions today.
As a people, we must remember that the one common denominator our forefathers all shared was the fact that upon their arrival they were all faced with the most burdensome and severe hardship. However, they united and found the courage to work together to build our great nation. Regardless of our origins, we have all strived to build a nation, and we can be proud of our achievements.
Today, as a nation faced with a very dire and grim national state of affairs, we are similarly called upon to unite and have determination as a people to ensure the welfare, benefit and sustenance of our fellow man regardless of race, religion, political difference and social standing.
Therefore, as we celebrate Indian Arrival Day it is imperative that we rekindle the courage of our forefathers to build a better, stronger Trinidad and Tobago.
We must never forget the blood, sweat and tears which were shed on the plantations, in the oilfields, in the barracks or on the roads as our ancestors fought for a better way of life.
I ask our citizens to continue to revere the legacy of all our ancestors by being determined to create a nation where every creed and race finds an equal place as well as realises their true potential. Further, I call on our leaders to respect the principles which our forefathers displayed and do what is in the best interest of all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.
On behalf of the United National Congress and on my own behalf, I wish all a happy Indian Arrival Day.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Leader of the Opposition
30th May, 2019