I join with the national community in commemorating Indian Arrival Day, an occasion that celebrates and honours the rich heritage and contributions of the East Indian community to our beloved nation.
Indian Arrival Day serves as a powerful reminder of the struggles, sacrifices, and triumphs of our ancestors who arrived on these shores in 1845. Their journey was not an easy one, and upon arrival, they faced the challenges of adapting to a new land, a new language, and new conditions. In the face of seemingly insurmountable hardships, they persevered, carrying with them a remarkable spirit of resilience and an unwavering determination to build a better future for themselves and their descendants.
It is occasions such as this one that allow us to fully appreciate our ancestors and their sacrifices. We stand here, beneficiaries of their enduring legacy. We owe it to their memory to ensure that their contributions are not forgotten, but cherished and celebrated.
The East Indian community has played an integral role in shaping our nation’s cultural, social, economic, and political fabric. From the fields to the boardrooms, from the classrooms to the courtrooms, Indian descendants have excelled and made significant contributions in various fields.
Trinidad and Tobago is today no longer the strange and new island that greeted our forefathers. Today, it is our home. Today East Indian culture is dyed in the wool into the culture and identity of Trinidad and Tobago.
However, while we take this moment to celebrate, we must also recognize that our work is not yet complete. Ours is a diverse nation, with a tapestry of different cultures, languages, and traditions. It is in this diversity that our true strength lies. As the leader of the Opposition, I believe in the power of unity, inclusivity, and social justice.
We must work together to address the challenges that persist within our society. We must strive for equality, justice, and fairness for all citizens, regardless of their background or heritage. We must ensure that every person, regardless of their ancestry, has equal access to opportunities, quality education, healthcare, and a chance to thrive.
As we celebrate Indian Arrival Day, let us also reflect on the principles of freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights. Let us stand together against any form of discrimination, prejudice, or intolerance.
The essence of Indian Arrival Day is that every single person has a right to chart their own destiny and prosperity free from the authoritarian control of others. I am proud that the party I lead continues to fight for the democratic rights of all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.
On this occasion, I call upon the government to renew its commitment to promoting social cohesion and inclusive development. We need policies that empower all citizens and provide a level playing field for everyone to succeed. Let us work together to create an environment where every individual can fulfil their potential, irrespective of their heritage or the circumstances of their birth.
In conclusion, I extend my warmest wishes to the Indian community on this Indian Arrival Day. Let us remember and honour the struggles and achievements of our ancestors. Together, let us forge a future that upholds the values of equality, justice, and unity.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Leader of the Opposition
30th May, 2023