Family ties in Turks and Caicos
Last Friday, there was a General Election held in our sister Overseas Territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI).
Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory consisting of the larger Caicos Islands and smaller Turks Islands, two groups of tropical islands in the Lucayan Archipelago of the Atlantic Ocean.
“The Turks and Caicos were inhabited by Taino and Lucayan Indians. These original settlers left a rich heritage of seafaring, salt raking and farming, which still lingers on today.
“Bermudians came to Turks and Caicos to rake the salt and take it back to Bermuda. Salt was a precious commodity back then as it was used not only for flavoring food but for preserving it as well.”
“In 1706, the French and the Spanish briefly captured the Turks and Caicos Islands from the Bermudians. Four years later the British reclaimed the islands for Bermuda.” - Turksandcaicostourism.com
So Bermuda and TCI have had a long standing history of over 300 years.
Many persons in TCI can trace their family history to Bermuda. Some surnames common in both sets of islands are Astwood, Butterfield, Bean, Durham, Frith and Seymour.
If one were to listen to a native of TCI it would be hard pressed to tell the difference in dialect between theirs and the native Bermudian tongue.
TCI’s main industry is tourism. It has a population of approximately 35,000 of whom approximately 8,600 are registered voters.
There are two main political parties, The People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) and The Progressive National Party (PNP).
A total of 15 seats in their parliament with 10 Electoral Districts (Constituencies) and 5 At Large seats.There were a total of 38 Candidates vying for these seats: 15 from each party and 8 Independent candidates.
The main issues leading into the election were as follows; Immigration and Employment concerns, with many TCI natives being unemployed, violent crime and the ever rising cost of living.
Some other interesting aspects of the electoral procedures were as follows.
Currently there are no provisions for; mail in ballots, proxy ballots, advance polls for travellers / seniors, no voting from home for those who are mobility challenged and no voting for those who are in hospitals or rest homes.
Going into the General Election the then incumbent People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) held a total of ten seats and the Progressive National Party (PNP) held a total of five seats.
As the results rolled in for the 2021 General Election, it became clear that the tide had shifted against the PDM in favour of the PNP.
When the final tally was taken, the PNP held 14 seats and the PDM managed to salvage only 1 seat.
Essentially, it was a tsunami against the then incumbent government.
The new Premier of the Turks and Caicos is now The Hon Charles Washington Misick.
On Wednesday, Premier Misick appointed his Cabinet of seven Ministers.
Of those seven Ministers, three are women who won their seats. That equates to 43 per cent of the Cabinet being female.
The 3 women ministers are as follows:
●Akierra Mary Deanne Missick - Leader of Government Business and Minister of Infrastructure, Housing Planning and Development.
●Josephine Olivia Connolly — Minister of Tourism, Environment, Heritage, Maritime, Gaming and Disaster Management.
●Rachel Marshall Taylor — Minister of Education, Youth, Culture, Social and Library Services
Interestingly enough, Minister Akierra Missick has visited Bermuda on several trips as her mother brought her to visit some of her relatives of the Durham family. Minister Josephine Connolly is also related to one section of the Smith family of Bermuda.
In 2018, during a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) course at McGill University in Montreal, Tinee Furbert and Josephine Connolly formed a very close bond.
So we look forward to continuing to expand our working relationship with our brothers and sisters in the TCI.
After all they are literally our family, who happen to sound just like us.