Goodbye, Alix Boyd-Knights
Family, friends and former colleagues reflect on the life of the late Alix Boyd-Knights
In a life marked by unwavering dedication to her family, her country, and her culinary passions, one family member of the late former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Alix Boyd-Knights, holds firm to the view that she left an indelible mark on Dominica's political and social landscape.
"To know her was to love her," The Sun was told following the passing of Boyd-Knights on August 29, 2023.
An attorney by profession, Boyd-Knights began her historic journey as Speaker of the House of Assembly on April 17, 2000, and subsequently won re-election on July 27, 2005, February 4, 2010, and February 20, 2015. Her third re-election in 2010 solidified her position as the longest-serving Speaker in Dominica's rich history.
Having sat in the Speaker's chair for nearly two decades, she was awarded the distinguished title of Speaker Emeritus in 2020. This revered honour was bestowed upon her during the First Meeting of the First Session of the Tenth Parliament on February 10 of that year.
"Alix Boyd-Knights was more than just a former Speaker of the House of Assembly; she was a beacon of warmth, kindness, and authenticity," stated one of her former colleagues. "Her life was dedicated to the service of her beloved country, but it was her personal qualities that endeared her to all who had the privilege of knowing her."
"Her trademark was her warm smile, genuine interest in others, and unwavering kindness. These qualities transcended politics and made her a beloved figure in Dominica. Regardless of political affiliations, people respected and admired her for her integrity and love for her country, " another wrote on social media.
Skerrit praises Alix Boyd-Knights
Just a day after her passing, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit spoke of his deep admiration for Boyd-Knights, not only as a Speaker but also as a valued colleague and advisor.
According to Skerrit, during her term as Speaker of the House, Boyd-Knights approached her responsibilities with "passion and dedication."
"She was firm, no-nonsense, and insisted on upholding strict parliamentary procedures and the rules of the house," he stated.
Skerrit added that her leadership style, both as the House's chair and as the head of the Parliamentary Women's Association, exemplified women's strength and resilience to leadership positions.
The prime minister further revealed that Boyd-Knights devoted a significant portion of her life to championing women's rights and safeguarding the welfare of children in society, adding that she collaborated with the government for years, advocating for the enhancement of laws concerning domestic violence, child maintenance, and children's rights.
"And I daresay she was very successful in this endeavour," he remarked. "And I'm happy that we're able to bring five family protection laws to the Parliament during her lifetime in April 2023."
As Prime Minister, Skerrit expressed his deep personal and professional admiration for Boyd-Knights. He lauded her counsel and support, highlighting her role as a valued colleague and advisor to him and the Dominica Labour Party (DLP).
"I treasured her sound advice on political matters. And I'm thankful for her support of me and my colleagues over many years," the head of government stated.
Caribbean Court of Justice saddened
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) acknowledged her contributions, recognizing her as a Pioneering Caribbean Woman Jurist in 2021.
Dr. Lennox Honychurch highlighted her passion for culinary arts and her efforts to empower women through cooking, a testament to her multifaceted legacy.
In a heartfelt statement, The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and the CCJ Academy for Law express their profound sorrow at the passing of Boyd-Knights in which they noted that her signal honour as Speaker Emerita was bedecked by a lifetime of firsts.
Her journey was marked by a lifetime of groundbreaking achievements, they noted.
She made history as the first student to complete her first year of law studies in The University of the West Indies (UWI) non-campus territory. While at The UWI, Cave Hill, her daughters also pursued tertiary education at Cave Hill and St Augustine campuses.
Following the loss of her mother, she embarked on a courageous path, taking her eight-year-old daughter to Barbados to further her studies and later to the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago.
In 2010, Alix Boyd Knights achieved another milestone when she was elected Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, a testament to her dedication to promoting women's participation in parliamentary affairs.
A pinnacle of recognition for her outstanding contributions to Caribbean law came in 2021 when the CCJ Academy for Law honoured Speaker Boyd-Knights as a Pioneering Caribbean Woman Jurist.
In the words of Dr. Lennox Honychurch, who composed her profile for this esteemed award: "Quite apart from her illustrious career in law and parliamentary affairs in Dominica and the wider Commonwealth for over 30 years, Boyd Knights has been sharing her love for culinary arts with people all over the world. She has used radio, television, Facebook, YouTube, and face-to-face sessions to teach women to cook, preserve, and process food to generate income and lift themselves from poverty."
President Charles Angelo Savarin "deeply saddened"
President of Dominica, His Excellency Charles Savarin, "deeply saddened by her passing," noted Boyd-Knights "was a true patriot" and prominent Caribbean woman who will be remembered for her almost 20 years of dedicated and sterling service to the House of Assembly and her "strong advocacy on the rights of vulnerable women and children, her great love for carnival, cooking, hosting and horticulture."
According to the head of state, the sudden passing of the Speaker Emerita will undoubtedly leave a void in the lives of her children, grandchildren, siblings, office staff, close friends and extended family, which will remain with them for a long time.
Her influence extended beyond the confines of the parliamentary halls. In 2010, she was nominated by the Roosevelt Skerrit-led government to assume the presidency of Dominica, poised to succeed Eluid Williams upon the expiration of his term in October of the same year.
However, the move encountered vigorous opposition from the United Workers Party (UWP).
The academic journey that paved the way for Boyd-Knights' career includes Hugh Wooding Law School, Trinidad and Tobago (1988-1990) Certificate of Legal Education; University of the West Indies, Barbados (1986-1988) LLB Hons.; University of the West Indies Distance Learning Programme, St. Lucia (1984-1986); Leeds College of Technology, England (1962-1963); Convent High School, Dominica (1953-1960), Senior Cambridge Certificate.
Boyd-Knights' professional journey spanned various roles and accomplishments, which include Chairperson, Commonwealth Women Parliamentarian (CWP) (2010); Chairperson, Constituency Boundaries Commission; Attorney-at-Law/Owner, Knights Chambers, Dominica; Owner/Tutor, Knights Cookery School, St. Lucia (1972-1986); Home Economics Teacher, Castries Comprehensive School, St. Lucia (1971-1972) and Bank Clerk, Royal Bank of Canada, Dominica (1960-1961).
The Government of Dominica has announced its intention to honour her with a state funeral.
-By Ronda Luke