Opposition Leader Honourable Julian Fraser is calling for the British Government to pay off the reparations owed to indigenous Virgin Islanders.

Fraser made the appeal during the opening ceremony of the Bernard ‘Yampie’ Nibbs Festiville on Wednesday night at the Festival Grounds.

He said the selected Virgin Islanders to receive reparations should fall under the indigenous category, adding that these individuals should be placed within the territory’s new Constitution.

“The British Government just finished paying off a loan that they used to pay off the masters on the plantation at the time of emancipation. It is time that they get a new loan for reparations,” Fraser stated.

“Reparations shall come to Virgin Islanders who will be here to get it. And I want for the new Constitution Review to reflect that. In that new Constitution Review, we shall create a new section in the Constitution and establish a new category of persons in the Virgin Islands called ‘Indigenous Virgin Islanders’. Those indigenous Virgin Islanders would be referred to as…descendants of Virgin Islands slaves and they would be compensated through this reparation for that from whatever we were emancipated from,” he further explained.

Befitting to have Yampie honoured

Minister for Culture Honourable Sharie de Castro welcomed the opportunity to once again celebrate the emancipation festivities in person, after missing out over the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She also commended Nibbs for his achievement in having the village named in his honour.

“Over the past two years, we have had to celebrate our emancipation virtually and we are truly happy that this year we are physically able to commemorate this important and historic milestone in our Virgin Islands history,”

Governor looking forward to events

Governor His Excellency John Rankin said he is looking forward to the cultural festivities.

He said it was always his commitment from the commencement of his role as governor to support the respective cultural events in the territory.

He stated, “I look forward to attending a number of the events I hope, over the coming days, the cultural events, the different events to mark the diversity of the people of this territory, to mark where they have come from and where they are going.”

Meanwhile, honouree Nibbs said the 2022 Emancipation Festival will be a success since it is named in his honour.

He thanked all the parties involved in making this year’s festival a reality.