Sons and daughters of Saint Lucia;
Love the land that gave us birth;
Land of beaches, hills and valleys;
Fairest isle of all the earth!
If you were to ask the average Saint Lucian, “What does patriotism mean to you?” very few would be able limit their response to just one answer.
Patriotism, is a word which evokes so many thoughts and feelings. For a small island nation like Saint Lucia, coloured by a rich history of trials, triumphs and resilience, patriotism has evolved to mean so much more than pure love, loyalty and devotion to the ‘land that gave us birth.’
Today, when we speak of patriotism, the following questions come to mind; “How can we can help our country to grow and develop? What value can we add to our country? How can we improve/enhance the way things are done? How can we ensure that the generations that follow will be able to enjoy the same (if not better) quality of living than what we currently enjoy today?”
In the National Competitiveness & Productivity Council’s (NCPC’s) quest to fulfil its mandate of promoting greater awareness of productivity and competitiveness in St. Lucia, significant emphasis is being placed on cultivating an environment which fosters/encourages the necessary mindset change required for an improvement in productivity.
Consequently, on the eve of Saint Lucia’s 38th Independence Anniversary celebrations, the Council relaunched its “Empowerment Series.” The series which was officially launched last year, targets youth island-wide and seeks to encourage them to embrace the attitudes and values which will lead Saint Lucia into a more productive future.
The boys of the St. Aloysius R.C. Boys Primary School were the eager audience to the NCPCs first Empowerment presentation for 2017. Anybody passing by the school on Monday, February 20th, would have been treated to a chorus of over 400 boys, clad in their black and blue school uniforms, proudly belting out the verses of the Saint Lucian National Anthem.
Like many other schools on island, the activities at the all-boys primary school earmarked for this week centred on the island’s observance of its 38th Independence Anniversary.
The week was ushered in with a school assembly, which sought to highlight the country’s journey towards independence. Co-ordinator of the assembly and Teacher Ms. Wheatney Francis, animatedly narrated the history of Saint Lucia; from being inhabited by the Amerindians, to colonialism and the Anglo-French wars to gaining Associate Statehood and eventually independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1979.
Ms. Francis’ narration set the perfect tone for the lively presentation on ‘Productivity and patriotism’, by Ms. Renita Shivnauth, which ensued. Ms. Shivnauth, 2013 Junior Tourism Minister, a public speaker and NCPC Productivity Ambassador, warmly greeted the “Sons  of Saint Lucia” and immediately caught their attention.
In addressing the young boys, Shivnauth explained how words of the national anthem, a symbol of national pride, which they were all quite familiar with, was also a blueprint for living a productive life. The boys looked on with interest, excited to hear more.
Renita emphasized that by the very act of going to school and acquiring knowledge and skills, these young men were preparing to make a contribution to the country. She said, “Boys, you each have an important role to play in our country’s growth. For our country to thrive you must continue to work hard and understand that each of your actions, no matter how small has an impact on not just your future but that of your country. You do not have to wait to be older to be productive. I want to encourage you to dream now. Set goals and continue to pursue these goals until you have achieved them. You are the future of Saint Lucia.”
The presentation by Ms. Shivnauth was very appropriate particularly in light of the theme for Saint Lucia’s 38th Independence Anniversary; “I Am Saint Lucia”. The theme encourages deep reflection on not just what patriotism means but what is required of us as patriots and citizens of Saint Lucia. As we reflect on our roles, the link between productivity and patriotism is further brought to light.