Independence Message from Hon. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

Fellow Dominicans, visitors and friends,

Once again we are at that time of the year when we celebrate our national independence. This year as is our custom, we celebrate with pageantry, originality, splendour and patriotism. We put on display with vigour the various aspects of our culture. Whether it is song, dance, cuisine or clothing, we show the world what it means to be Dominican.

I extend a warm welcome to all visitors and friends who have made the effort to be here to celebrate with us. Many of you who are unable to be here are filled with excitement at this time of the year, and zealously put Dominica on display by mounting your own shows and other events that depict your Dominican culture. May you continue to lift our country up as you proudly display your rich inheritance.

As we rejoice at our thirty-fifth anniversary of political independence, I urge all of you to reflect on the many advances we have made as a nation. The road has not always been easy, but we have persevered and in the process, we have lifted Dominica to be a strong performer in moving towards achievement of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals and we have managed to place some of our nationals on the regional and the world stage.

We have cause to say Merci Bon Dieu [thank God].

The improvements we have made in infrastructure, education, healthcare, housing and other social services can be quickly forgotten if we as a people cannot unite. Independence provides the opportune time for us to put aside all differences and to come together as one people, celebrating the things that unite us and strengthen the bonds of brotherhood in our nation.

Over the past year, we have been spared the extreme ravages of natural disasters. Our people continue to excel and showcase their talents locally, regionally and internationally. Our rivers continue to flow and our soil continues to provide the fertility ensuring that we are always blessed with the fruits, vegetables and provisions as well as the natural lush, tranquil and abundant vegetation which attracts visitors to our shores.

It was Edward Oliver Leblanc, the first Premier and the man considered the father of the nation who once wrote, "The path though blocked with stone or barbed rail may be crossed with method and precision". While the road ahead may not be always straight and narrow, if we walk together hand in hand, as a people with one mission, to develop one Dominica, we will succeed, we will prosper.

At independence we focus on nation building. However, nation building does not only occur during the few weeks of celebration when our culture takes the forefront. Nation building happens every day when all of us work together ensuring a bright future for Dominica.

We must be thankful that we in Dominica continue to be spared the turmoil, trials and tribulation of many other parts of the world. We remain a peaceful yet resolute people who have been known to respect the differences and opinions of others. We have shown in the past that in times of crisis the bonds that unify us as a people transcend all negatives and we are able to overcome all challenges.

"One People One Dominica" is a fitting theme as we turn thirty-five. We can only achieve one Dominica if we are one people. Let us be proud of who we are. Let us be proud of where we have come from. Let us be focused on where we are going.

Our nation is at a pivotal point in its development. Though we have made tremendous strides, there is still more work to be done. There is still more to achieve. There is still more to celebrate. We must do our best because where mortals have done their best angels can hardly do much better.

Let us celebrate without incident, as one people. To all visitors, welcome to our beautiful country, enjoy our hospitality and friendliness that we as a people offer. Take back with you our greetings and return at any time you like.

May God continue to bless Dominica.