Dame Jennifer: a ‘mentor, friend, confidante’

  • Role model: former premier Dame Jennifer Smith, who led the first PLP government, is honoured last night at an event to celebrate Black History Month at Hamilton Princess & Beach Club (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Role model: former premier Dame Jennifer Smith, who led the first PLP government, is honoured last night at an event to celebrate Black History Month at Hamilton Princess & Beach Club (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The woman who led the Progressive Labour Party to its first election victory said last night the contribution of black Bermudians deserved more recognition.

Dame Jennifer Smith was speaking at a dinner hosted by the Hamilton Princess&Beach Club in recognition of the former premier for Black History Month.

She said: “We need to start letting people know what we have done in Bermuda. We need to look at our history, and I dare say, with a magnifying glass so we can truly tell Bermudians what our history is.”

Dame Jennifer, who led the PLP to its historic win in 1998, said: “We are what we become through our experiences in life.”

She said she chose the Bermuda Heritage Museum as the charity to receive part proceeds from the dinner because of its importance in spreading knowledge of Bermuda’s history.

Dame Jennifer also spoke of the importance of giving back to the country.

She said it was important to know the roles friendly societies have played in Bermuda’s development.

She urged people to continue to give back to the country.

“All of us need to know that we can give back to our country,” she said.

More than 55 people were at the dinner and Dame Jennifer shared some of her experiences with guests.

People attending the dinner were pleased that Dame Jennifer was being recognised as a part of Black History Month celebrations.

Scott Simmons, the MP for Southampton West, said she introduced him to politics. “She has been a wonderful example ever since and I have been grateful to her for what she presented to me.”

He added: “I have been very satisfied with the relationship that I have had with her.

“There is an element of respect that I have for the Dame because she has been extremely respectful, not only as it relates to politics, but she has a respect for the community that goes a very very long way.”

“She has paved the way for a lot of us young people to recognise the significance of accountability to community.”

Robert Horton said: “Dame Jennifer has demonstrated her commitment to service of this community. I remember she spoke of wanting to make a contribution to this community and I think any examination of her outstanding career shows that she has not failed in that regard.”

He added that she has been a role model to all Bermudians.

Mr Horton said: “She is a fabulous Bermudian; I’m proud that I know her. I’m so proud that she is being celebrated during Black History Month.”

Trina Bean, who worked with Dame Jennifer, said: “She has set the bar so high for many of us. I consider her a mentor, a friend, a confidante and I’m so proud of her accomplishments and all that she has done.”

Former premier Paula Cox said: “She has earned the right to be acknowledged; she was a woman who has courage. She will always earn my respect as a woman who has always been prepared to step up and step out.”

Michelle Khaldun, who worked with the former premier said: “She demands excellence and that’s what she gives. I admire her tenacity to question things and to make sustainable changes.”

Norma Astwood, who served with Dame Jennifer in the Senate, said she would like to see more young women following in Dame Jennifer’s footsteps

Dame Jennifer is one of two former premiers to be celebrated with dinners at the hotel for Black History Month.

Sir John Swan will also be celebrated on February, 23.

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Published Feb 14, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 14, 2019 at 12:46 pm)

Dame Jennifer: a ‘mentor, friend, confidante’

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