The honorary Caribbean consul
St Kitts-Nevis and Bermuda are 1,675 miles apart, but Louise Tannock is determined to bridge the gap.
In the 41 years since she moved from St Kitts to Bermuda, she has taken schoolchildren to meet relatives in St Kitts-Nevis, hosted visitors from the islands, and tried to promote Bermuda culture in St Kitts-Nevis and vice versa.
The 60-year-old thinks that is one of the reasons she was made honorary consul for St Kitts-Nevis in Bermuda in October.
“When I found out I was being made honorary consul, I said ‘wow’,” she said. “It’s a real honour. I think I’ll frame the certificate and put it on my wall.”
As honorary consul she is required to look out for the interests of people from St Kitts-Nevis in Bermuda, and direct them to the right place when they have passport issues.
“I have simple duties,” she said. “It is not a paid job or a political appointment. I can help to promote Bermuda and St Kitts-Nevis. If there are opportunities to help Bermudians, or Nevisians or Kittitians with passport issues, I can be a help in directing them to the right avenues. It’s about making sure we keep strengthening the connection between the islands.”
She was born in Basseterre, St Kitts, but moved to Bermuda in her late teens to live with her father’s oldest sister, Lillian Sealey and Mrs Sealey’s daughter Alethea Tucker.
“I visited my aunt and her family many times during my childhood,” she said. “She lived on Angle Street in Hamilton. At 19, I came here for another visit and begged her to let me stay. I loved Bermuda. I had more freedom here, and loved being with my cousins. My family here really treated me like I was one of them.”
She could not swim, but remembers a cousin chucking her off the rocks in Bermuda, in a misguided attempt to teach her.
“They said ‘you’re from the islands, you should be able to swim’,” she said. “I almost drowned and they had to pull me out.”
She loved that her family in Bermuda always treated her like one of them.
“My cousin Alethea and her husband, Clyde, were older than me,” said Ms Tannock. “Like everyone else, I called my cousin ‘Ma’. She and her husband made sure I got an education, which my family at home couldn’t have afforded. I was blessed.”
Mrs Tannock studied at the Bermuda College for two years before transferring to Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada. There she attained her bachelor’s degree before moving to the University of Toronto to do her teacher training.
She married Bermudian Lionel Tannock in 1984, right after graduating from university.
They met as youngsters. Mr Tannock was her cousins’ neighbour.
“I began my teaching in 1985 at Sandys Secondary and did a year there and then did nine years at Warwick Secondary and then ten years at Berkeley,” she said.
While teaching local history to her students, she learnt St Kitts-Nevis roots ran deep in Bermuda.
“In my years of teaching, I became quite aware there are many Kittitian and Nevisian Bermudians,” she said. “The older generations came out to find work here in the 1920s.”
She said names like Lister, Thomas, Bean, Bridgewater, Browne, Douglas, Phillips and Phipps are common in Bermuda and in St Kitts-Nevis.
As a teacher she encouraged her students to feel proud of their heritage, whatever that was.
“It doesn’t matter where you are from, it is important to remember your heritage and celebrate it,” she said.
In 2005 she left teaching to become programme manager at Community and Cultural Affairs. There she was often responsible for organising events like Bermuda Day, the Gombey Festival and the Emancipation Celebration.
“I loved working with young people and helping them feel comfortable about who they were,” she said. “The transition to Community and Cultural Affairs was an opportunity to reach a broader area of Bermuda and help keep traditions at the forefront. Today, I am most proud of helping Bermuda to keep its celebrations and values.”
In 2015, she left Community and Cultural Affairs to return to the classroom. She now teaches a history and geography course to Somersfield Academy middle schoolers.
She and her husband have two grown-up children, Lovette and Lorin.
• To contact Louise Tannock, call 705 4254 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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