The third bi-annual Diaspora conference, postponed in June of this year due to the unrest in Kingston, has been rescheduled to June, 2011.
This was disclosed by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte, while delivering the main address at the First Annual Northeast Diaspora conference, at the West Indies Social Club (WISC), Hartford, Connecticut on Saturday (October 30).
“I am pleased to inform you that based on consultations with Diaspora groups in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, we have decided that the next Diaspora convention to be hosted in Jamaica, will take place in June, 2011,” she said.
She said, however, that the Diaspora advisory board would have to be convened to resume dialogue, in preparation for the conference.
Senator Malahoo Forte, who is responsible for Diaspora affairs in the ministry, said that prior to the convention, it is anticipated that the Diaspora will play a significant role in a number of developments.
“It is imperative that thorough consultation throughout the USA be undertaken. Key objectives and other issues must be discussed prior to the convention to achieve more results,” she urged the large crowd of participants.
She said that to achieve the objectives will demand determination, commitment, hard work and, in many cases, considerable sacrifice. However, she was confident that as resilient Jamaicans they would achieve the objectives.
The junior minister also announced that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade the Hon. Ken Baugh has appointed Managing Director of Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), Earl Jarrett, as the new chairman of the Jamaica Diaspora Foundation. He succeeds the late Professor Rex Nettleford, who died earlier this year.
Mrs. Malahoo Forte urged the Northeast Diaspora to develop a skills bank, similar to one developed by the UK Diaspora. She said that this critical use of information and communication technology, which is at the heart of the endeavour, represented the achievement of some of the plans in the early years of dialogue on engaging and facilitating the participation of the Diaspora in Jamaica’s development.
Ambassador to the United States, Audrey Marks, congratulated the audience for attending the first Northeast Diaspora conference.
“I must salute your recognition of the need to regroup, take stock and sharpen your energies as a Diaspora organization,” she said. She also commended the event as an example to Jamaicans everywhere, to take a proactive position on nation building for Jamaica.
Chairman of the Northeast Diaspora Board, Patrick Beckford, in his welcome said that Jamaicans in the Diaspora should be resolved to play their part in a more tangible way, to effect change in the growth and development of Jamaica.
“Through these efforts our contribution will energize and mobilize a process of positive change for the Jamaican people, thus making Jamaica a place of choice to live, work, raise a family and do business,” she said.