Parliament to hold extraordinary session on Emancipation Day
The Council of Ministers has decided to all government workers the day off on Friday, July 1st Emancipation Day.
"We were hoping that Emancipation Day would have been a National Public Holiday in accordance with the wishes of the people, however, due to the fact that the draft law is still going through the necessary legislative process, and would not be passed by parliament in time for this year’s celebration of July 1st the Council of Ministers unanimously decided to give all government workers the day off," Minister of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs, Dr. Rhoda Arrindell said.
"I have, on behalf of government, held a tri-partite meeting with the private sector, represented by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association, SHTA, and the Chamber of Labor Unions and WITU, in an attempt to seek their cooperation so that workers in the private sector could also get the day or at least part of the day off," Dr. Arrindell added.
"Although the meeting was very positive, the respective partners were however free to decide as they saw fit. They will, I expect, announce what their decisions are."
According to the Minister, who has been spearheading the initiative to have the law passed that would declare July 1st a public holiday, the program for this year’s celebration will start at 9:00AM with an ecumenical service which will be held at the New Testament Baptist Church.
This will be followed by an Extraordinary Plenary Session of Parliament at 11:00AM during which the faction leaders as well as the President of Parliament will offer their Emancipation Day messages. The Minister of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs will deliver the message on behalf of the Council of Ministers.
The Minister will host a luncheon for invited guests at the Sheer Restaurant on Front Street immediately after the parliamentary session.
"At 4:00PM we will have a Cultural Parade which will start in front of the Courthouse, make its way along Front Street up to the Emmaplein and then to the Sundial School roundabout, coming up the Pondfill and turning in by the Salt Pickers Roundabout to end up at the Square," Minister Arrindell disclosed. At the Square, Tanny & the Boys will entertain the public.
"We must honor the sacrifice of our ancestors, knowing that they did not wait for freedom to be given to them as a special gift, but actually did everything they could to be free. In fact, the freedom we are celebrating was won long before July 1st 1863; historical records show our ancestors had been free since 1848 when Slavery was abolished in all French territories, including the Northern half of our island where many of the enslaved in the South fled to their freedom," Dr. Rhoda Arrindell concluded.