ST JOHN, USVI -- US Virgin Islands Governor John de Jongh welcomed British Virgin Islands officials and citizens to St John on Saturday for a celebration of the 39th USVI/BVI Friendship Day. The special event was established in 1972 and has for almost four decades marked the close-knit relationship between the two territories and their peoples.
“In many ways, USVI/BVI Friendship Day is like a family reunion. Our brothers and sisters in the British Virgin Islands share a bond with us that is unlike any other, and while they live so nearby, these special occasions provide us with an opportunity to commemorate our shared history and culture as we continue working closely in the best interests of both territories,” de Jongh said.
Governor and First Lady de Jongh and Lieutenant Governor and Mrs Francis welcomed British Virgin Islands Premier Dr Orlando Smith and members of his administration. The official delegations from both territories were joined by celebrants from across the British and US Virgin Islands.
The day started off with a breakfast at Cruz Bay’s Franklin Powell Park and a short parade. The delegations then enjoyed a short program and various cultural presentations at Annaberg Plantation, including performances by the Mungo Niles dancers and the Quelbe band Smalls and the Music Makers. There were also demonstrations in broom making, as well as fishing net and sugar cake making, and bread baking. The next stop in the day-long celebration was the Westin hotel for a luncheon, where the leaders of the two territories made toasts to their heads of state, including to US President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II.
The governor noted, “USVI/BVI Friendship Day is more than just a chance to celebrate our common traditions. It is an opportunity to strengthen our relationship -- one that is so vital to each territory’s economic and social prosperity, including via collaborative efforts in the development of clean energy, combating crime and gangs, expanding educational and higher learning opportunities for youth, commercial fishing and marine interests, cultural preservation, and the development of common tourism initiatives.”
DeJongh added, “I am particularly proud of our work together on the Inter Virgin Islands Council, or IVIC, in addressing critical issues of local, regional and global significance.”
During the day’s festivities, Acting Governor of the British Virgin Islands Inez Archibald noted, “The relationship between our territories has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. Today’s celebrations remind us of our shared roots, our shared heritage and shared culture. We are one people.”
She also acknowledged the cooperation between the two territories in the area of law enforcement, and in other areas.
BVI Premier Smith also noted, “We are brothers and sisters, sharing the same heritage, and we thank you for inviting us to celebrate with you.”