Antigua & Barbuda is open for business and nationals in Canada and the rest of the diaspora are encouraged to invest in the country of their birth.
That was the message Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Charles “Max” Fernandez, delivered at the Antigua & Barbuda Association of Toronto (ABAT) annual awards celebration last Saturday night to mark the twin-island nation’s 33rd independence anniversary.
Antigua & Barbuda secured its independence from Britain on November 1, 1981.
“Our islands are on a new path with a renewed energy and commitment,” said Fernandez, who joined the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) three decades ago and served as a senator from 1995 to 2004. “While remittances are playing an important part in lifting our economy, there are numerous opportunities to invest.”
The new ALP government recently signed a series of memoranda to attract hotel and tourism-related projects to the islands that will create thousands of jobs and investment opportunities.
“Most of these projects will take off in the next year and we want our nationals in Canada to be part of this,” said Fernandez, whose ministerial responsibilities include the diaspora and overseas missions. “With the skills, knowledge and expertise many of them have, we know they have a lot to give that will immensely benefit our country.”
As part of the celebration, scholarships were presented to Aaliyah Abbott, who is enrolled in Seneca College’s social studies program and University of Toronto psychology student, Jahnia Stevens.
Awards were also presented for volunteerism and leadership in the community.
Marie Samuel-Andrew and Pascal Joseph were the recipients of the Joe Reid and Novelle Richards memorial awards, respectively.
Reid was an ABAT vice-president and community activist, while Richards was the first president of Antigua & Barbuda’s senate, his country’s first trade commissioner in Canada and the composer of the lyrics for Antigua & Barbuda’s national anthem. He died in Antigua in 1986 while serving as deputy governor-general.
University of Toronto fourth-year student, Kianna Benjamin-Cornwall, was awarded the President’s Cup for leadership. The Cup was donated by Carlton Abbott, who was the association’s 14th president.