Time to make strong links with St Kitts & Nevis
Bermudians have been asked to forge strong links with St Kitts&Nevis, the ancestral homeland for more than half the population.
The call came as Louise Tannock, the honorary consul for the Caribbean nation, discussed the long association between the two countries at the Bermuda National Library.
She said hundreds came from St Kitts&Nevis to Bermuda for work after the decline of its slavery-based sugar industry.
Emigration to Bermuda increased in 1875 as people travelled to work on projects such as Watford Bridge in the West End and later the Royal Naval Dockyard.
There were no visa requirements to enter Bermuda until 1923 and emigrants sought better opportunities on the island as economic hardship in St Kitts&Nevis deepened in the early 20th century.
Ms Tannock said common Bermudian surnames with Kittitian and Nevisian origins included Simmons, Cannonier, Caines, Guishard and Weeks.
Bermudians with roots in the Caribbean nation who spoke at the talk presented by the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, on Tuesday, included Christopher Famous, the Progressive Labour Party MP for Devonshire East, and Charles Jeffers, the deputy chairman of charity Age Concern. Mr Famous said: “We built Dockyard; we built Bermuda. We settled in Pembroke and Devonshire. That’s why we are called pond dogs.”
He added the neighbourhoods around Victor Scott Primary School in Pembroke were “mostly from St Kitts” and enough PLP MPs had roots in the islands to make the party “the St Kitts club”.
Mr Jeffers, whose father came from Nevis, said: “Just like our parents and grandparents came here, it’s time for some of us to go back and look at opportunities there.”
Mr Jeffers added he visited Nevis in 2002.
He said: “When I got there, a feeling came over me that this is where I belong.”
Annette Lewis, whose grandfather, Joseph Christopher, came to Bermuda from St Kitts&Nevis in 1918, said she had helped several Bermudians with applications for citizenship in St Kitts&Nevis.
David Dodwell Jr, the general manager at The Reefs hotel, added he “fell in love” with Nevis, where he owns a hotel.
He added: “It’s part of my life. When I go there, I feel home.”
Ms Tannock said: “We can benefit from each other. St Kitts might be in competition for Bermuda for tourists, but their season is beginning when our cruise ship season has ended.
“We have this brand-new airport, why not make St Kitts a hub for flights? Why not have Kittitian folks come to Bermuda College to put some money in our economy?”
She added: “We could have a real relationship, developing our young people’s skills by having them go there.”
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