My fellow Jamaicans, I am delighted to convey warm greetings to you as we celebrate the 15th Jamaica Diaspora Day. It is indeed a great honour for me to serve at this special juncture as Ambassador of a people whose talent, resilience and giving spirit remain hallmarks worthy of the Jamaican heritage and outstanding strength in these unprecedented times.
First commemorated in 2005 following a recommendation made at the first 2004 staging of the Jamaica Diaspora Conference, Jamaicans at home and abroad have come to embrace Diaspora Day as an occasion to highlight the achievements of the Diaspora and celebrate our common heritage.
Jamaicans in the Diaspora have long played an important role in the development of our beloved homeland. Through your myriad acts of benevolence – ranging from the provision of books for early childhood education and renovation of libraries and schools, to the provision of scholarships to students in need and medical supplies for our hospitals – you continue to touch the lives of our fellow nationals in so many meaningful ways. Diaspora Day serves as a potent reminder of all the good you have done and continue to do for our beautiful island.
Numerous Diaspora organizations and individuals have organized events to highlight the magnitude of this theme as our community plans and prepare for a prosperous future. Additionally, this June we celebrate National Caribbean American Heritage Month in the USA and the enormous contributions our people have been making to this great country.
This year Diaspora Day 2020 is also a somber occasion, as Jamaica and the rest of the world engage in an ongoing battle with a formidable enemy, the COVID-19 global pandemic. I express my deepest sympathies to the families struck by COVID-19 with the loss of family members and colleagues. I also acknowledge the hard work and incredible sacrifice of our frontline workers, whose dedication remains a powerful testament to their fortitude as we work to recover and regain our footing from the pandemic’s impact.
This Diaspora Day is also taking place at a time of great social turmoil driven by international anti-racism protests. I am, however, heartened by the strong resolve and determination of my fellow Jamaicans in the Diaspora, to not allow these challenging circumstances to deter you or dampen your spirits. The theme of Diaspora Day 2020 is “Unity and Resiliency,” and thus is more relevant now than ever. Our history, dating back to the era of slavery, has been characterized by triumph over challenges. I am therefore confident that we will overcome, as always, by God’s grace.
I also take this opportunity to convey heartfelt appreciation to members of the Jamaican Diaspora who provided enormous support, in tangible and intangible ways, towards enhancement of the welfare of fellow Jamaican nationals who were stranded in the United States as a consequence of the closure of Jamaica’s borders in March. Please know that your generosity was truly appreciated!
Please accept my best wishes for fruitful discussions and tangible outcomes which will inure to the benefit of Jamaicans in the Diaspora and Jamaica, land we love.
Happy Diaspora Day and One Love!
Audrey P. Marks
Embassy of Jamaica
June 16, 2020