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Cayman Islands Government

National Day of Healing and Unity

LOGB Hon Kurt Tibbetts, JP

Press Briefing Notes: National Day of Healing and Unity

Read by the Leader of Government Business

Thursday, 22nd January 2009

Background:

Tomorrow, Friday, 23rd January will be observed as a National Day of Healing and Unity. The observance of a National Day of Healing and Unity is a recommendation made by the Special Advisory Committee on Gender Violence. This committee was established as a result of the shocking murder of Estella Scott-Roberts, and they were tasked to provide the Government with recommendations on the issue of gender violence. The National Day of Healing and Unity was one of the immediate recommendations of the report that Cabinet has now accepted. There will be more information released in the near future, on the other recommendations that have been accepted by Cabinet.

Cabinet agreed that tomorrow, being the final day of the Ministry of Health and Human Services' Celebration of Wellness Week, would be an appropriate day for this observance, especially as it will be the day of focus on spiritual well-being. During this week, the Ministry has strived to remind the public to reflect and act on the various dimensions of well-being in 2009 and beyond.

Purpose:

Let me get back to the purpose of the National Day of Healing and Unity. The idea is to broadly recognize the psychological and spiritual impact of national level traumas, such as the murder of Estella Scott-Roberts and Hurricane Paloma, as well as the cumulative effects of individual, family, and community-wide traumas and suffering, such as deaths, divorces, car accidents, chronic illnesses, or other sources of grief or violence, that have impacted the residents of the Cayman Islands in recent time.

This Day is partly meant to be a call on the community to acknowledge that the process of healing and unity does not truly begin until we own up to our hurts or traumas, and begin to take steps towards positively changing our attitudes and our behaviours. This is true of the search for well-being in our lives, generally.

Actions for Observance:

In observance of National Healing and Unity Day, the public is encouraged to maintain one minute of silence at 11:00am tomorrow, Friday 23rd January. During the moment of silence, we hope that all but emergency or essential service activities will be put on pause. We are suggesting that the minute be utilized to say a silent prayer, hold hands with another person or group, or mentally focus on what individual actions can be taken to heal from the various traumas experienced, and to unify as one people. We envision this to be a moment where the absence of sound from movement, voice, song, or traffic is replaced with one minute of peaceful silence and prayer in all of our homes, schools, work places and commercial establishments.

All churches have also been invited through the Minster's Association, during this coming weekend of 23rd- 25th January, to focus their services, or invite their congregations to pray and reflect, on messages of healing and unity.

We are also encouraging the public to wear the colour white tomorrow, Friday, as it is the colour symbolic of peace, reverence and spirituality. Not only will wearing white represent to people that individuals are observing the National Day of Healing and Unity, it is also a reflection that they are making a commitment to move forward in a peaceful and positive manner in 2009 and beyond.

For further information contact: Bina Mani