Leader of the Catholic Church in Dominica, Bishop G. Malzaire
Leader of the Catholic Church in Dominica, Bishop G. Malzaire

The three sub-themes: our Health, our Heritage and our Future are but perfect rallying points for any developing nation at this time in its history.

Our Health: Never in our history has the health of our nation been so threatened as in this Covid pandemic. This invisible and insidious virus shows no respect or partiality for personages, whether on the level of colour, creed, or class. Therefore, any fight against such an unforgiving enemy demands a national approach. The numerous calls by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Churches, public sector groups and private citizens, for the adherence to health protocols and vaccination to both, alleviate the spread and eventually irradiate this common enemy, have been relentless. Commendation is in order for these groups and especially the frontline workers in the fight. Unfortunately, confusing theories about the pandemic itself and the resultant pushback from those in the anti-vaccination camp have not been lacking. One thing is clear, our success in this fight is largely dependent on our approach as a united force.

In this time of national celebration, I pray that we grow in a deeper awareness and appreciation of our interdependence in this fight to maintain a healthy nation. As we celebrate 43 years of nationhood, the adage, "united we stand, divided we fall," speaks loudly to us.

Our Heritage: Heritage connotes our birthright, patrimony and legacy. It essentially begs the question: What have we to offer to the rest of the world? As the saying goes, we can only give what we have. Traditionally, during our celebration of nationhood, we portray our creole apparel, cultural dances, rich cuisine, and the like. They no doubt symbolise a certain sense of unity as a people. However, a greater part of our patrimony is our spiritual heritage. In fact, we take the liberty in describing ourselves as a Christian nation, recognising that it is only on that level that our true character is revealed.

A people with character is a hopeful people. Let us together build on that hope.

Our future: It goes without saying that a people's future is dependent on its past and present endeavours geared towards the common good. So, too, will the future of our beloved Commonwealth be dependent on how we have managed our past and navigated the present. Therefore, both foregoing sub-themes: health and heritage provide us with much on which to dream.

No one can doubt that getting past Covid-19 will significantly change the present trajectory of our nation. Without a common and national approach to the present health situation, we might not have much of a heritage to pass on to the next generation. I have on other occasions described any positive approach to the pandemic, including vaccination, as an act of love for self and love of neighbour. Therefore, the unity of purpose which we seek through this year's celebration finds its true meaning in this virtue of love.

On this our National Day, let us thank God for our leaders both civil and religious, our civil servants, especially those on the frontline in the fight against the pandemic. Let us be grateful for our farmers and fisherfolks who continuously provide for our nutrition, our educators, lawmakers and practitioners, our merchants and all our citizens who contribute to building a positive Dominica. May our future be characterised by the values of discipline, genuine love for country, and a sense of selflessness and concern for others. With this unity of purpose, our success is sure.

Happy birthday Dominica!