No Emancipation Day holiday this year

POSTED: 06/16/11 1:30 PM

St. Maarten Businesses asked to close

St. Maarten – This year’s Emancipation Day – Friday July 1 – will not be a national public holiday. However Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Rhoda Arrindell has requested the two main business groups – The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association – encourage their members to give workers the day off as a symbolic gesture.

The law making Emancipation Day has not yet been handled in Parliament – the next step in the legal process. Arrindell had said two weeks ago the law would be handled in time, but said Wednesday that getting the legal process finished in time “may not be feasible.”

Arrindell said the Council of Ministers has already looked favorably on her request for civil servants to have the day off, but the business organizations Arrindell met with on Tuesday  have said they need to have discussions at the board level before they agree. The final decision on the free day will be announced in a joint press conference.

“I applaud the candor and the cooperative spirit which made the meeting such a productive one in terms of ideas and suggestions and would like to hereby publicly thank all the participants for their input. There was not one dissenting voice against making July 1st a Public Holiday,” Arrindell said.

The meeting also included the Windward Islands Chamber of Labor Unions. They reminded the meeting that unions have been at the forefront of the fight for Emancipation Day to be a holiday and that the day cannot be tied to revenue losses and loss of business. One participant at the meeting said, “Emancipation is in each of us”.

“Similarly, it was also made clear that we cannot talk of nation-building without recognizing the sacrifices of those who made it possible for us to walk around today without shackles. Emancipation Day therefore is a celebration of the victory of the human spirit over the inhumanities and injustices of slavery. What we are celebrating is freedom and as such this is not just a day for St. Martiners alone but for everyone who resides on our island,” Arrindell said.

A suggestion that schools adjust their calendars to include the holiday met “general approval” and Arrindell has promised to raise the matter with education stakeholders. There was also a suggestion that Emancipation day be promoted internationally and that the festivities place heavy focus on St. Martin’s history and culture.

 

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