Cayman to mark major historic milestones

| 19/03/2018 | 28 Comments
Cayman Islands Coat of Arms,Cayman News Service

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(CNS): Government is planning two major celebrations over the next 14 months to mark the diamond anniversaries of the Cayman Islands Coat of Arms and the country’s first Constitution. Premier Alden McLaughlin told the Legislative Assembly Friday that a small project team has been assembled to organise the events to celebrate and commemorate these historic anniversaries. Celebrations will begin in May to mark the 60-year anniversary of the Coat of Arms, which was established on 24 May 1958, both in Cayman and in the United Kingdom, with the Constitution celebrations taking place in July next year.

McLaughlin reflected on the history of the Coat of Arms, which was approved by the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly in 1957 with public input on its design. The Royal Warrant assigning “Armorial Ensigns for the Cayman Islands” was approved on 14 May 1958.

The original document displaying the Cayman Islands Coat of Arms was lost in a fire at the old government building in the 1970s, so Cayman’s London Office is arranging for two copies of the original document to be produced in the UK. One will then be displayed in the London office and the other at home in Cayman.

“Almost a year to the day of the assigning of our Coat of Arms, the House of Commons in the United Kingdom approved our first Constitution on 13 May 1959, and it was adopted by the Cayman Islands on 4 July 1959, ” McLaughlin said, noting that since then the Constitution has gone through a number of revisions, with the latest being in 2009. He explained the importance of the first Constitution, when  Cayman ceased to be a dependency of Jamaica and became a Crown colony in its own right.

“It also recognised full suffrage, allowing women the right to vote and stand for election for the first time. The Constitution also allowed the Cayman Islands the ability to make and pass our own laws and thus helped to usher in many of the early laws on which we built our tourism and financial services industries. So in many ways the 1959 Constitution was the foundation on which the modern Cayman Islands was built,” he added.

McLaughlin stated that the Constitution was the first step toward political advancement for the Cayman Islands, returning some independence to legislators and establishing the Legislative Assembly. The first members in the body also made the decision to maintain a constitutional relationship with the United Kingdom.

The premier pointed out that in 2009, still suffering from the impact of the world economic crisis, the country was not in a position to hold the major celebration that such an anniversary of the Constitution deserved. “But we now have an opportunity with the 60th anniversary of the Constitution, and of the Coat of Arms, to not only celebrate our history but to educate our young people, and remind us older ones, of the importance of our Coat of Arms and our first Constitution.”

McLaughlin said government was now planning a near two-year programme of activities focused on engaging, educating, and inspiring young Caymanians, celebrating Cayman’s diversity, celebrating the islands’ colourful history and engendering national pride.

He said the celebrations would begin in the UK with a reception at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London marking the 60-year anniversary of the Cayman Islands Coat of Arms.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Garter King of Arms Thomas Woodcock will speak at the reception, the premier said, adding, “Plans are to promote our links with the United Kingdom as well as tell the fantastic success story of the Cayman Islands.”

On 15 May, Michelin Star British Chef Claire Smythe will host a private Cayman bespoke lunch in London and share her experiences of the Cayman Islands.

The premier said the London Office is also working with the Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands to take the anniversary celebrations to the Monaco Boat Show in September, given that the Cayman Islands flag dominates 70% of the super yachts in the world.

In addition, the Cayman government is planing to have a presence at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham at the end of September to promote Cayman’s part in the context of a Global Britain.

He said local celebrations will begin on 28 May, though he did not describe any of the details of the events, explaining that the local organising team would reveal all in the near future. But he said throughout the celebrations of the diamond anniversary of the Cayman Islands Coat of Arms and the first Constitution, there will be a programme of celebration and education about Cayman and its links to the UK.

Former speaker of the House Mary Lawrence will also be writing the history of the Legislative Assembly from its beginnings on 5 December 1831 at Pedro St James to today.

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Category: Local News

Comments (28)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    “Major” and “milestone” must have special meanings. Like “Heroes” in Heroes Day.




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  2. Gray Matter says:

    Only hope they also celebrate by wild Turtle hunting and butchering reinstated… Now that’s Cayman.




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  3. Anonymous says:

    to 20/03 8:19am. Clearly you don’t know so this is for your benefit. Up until the mid-20th century, thatch rope was used all over the world in all applications, especially marine usage because (a) it doesn’t rot from salt water and (b) nylon rope had not yet been invented, or was so “new” as to be limited in availability. Cayman was one of the world’s largest exporters of thatch rope. Pay a visit to our National Museum and learn!

    So here’s educating you in the spirit of passing on knowledge rather than considering you a facetious moron!




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    • Anonymous says:

      One of world’s largest…lol.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Not enough palms on the whole island to be a major exporter, not to mention not enough people.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Back then Cayman had an abundance of thatch palms and Cayman rope was preferred to rope from other countries. Cayman exported more rope than any other countries/ islands because of the good quality.




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        • Anonymous says:

          We didn’t come close to sisal rope production. Brazil alone still makes >100,000 tonnes of sisal rope a year. Cayman production of “rope walk” silver thatch rope “peaked” in 1930s at 4 to 5 x 25 fathom (150′) lengths a day. A totally different scale of production, and price point (because ours, though weaker tensile-strength, floated and resisted salt water degradation).




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    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, yes, we all know that. But it really was not as big a deal as you are trying to make out. It was simply the only means of generating exports in a local economy that had over-hunted turtles.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman was the sole exporter of a limited amount of Thatch rope, since we were (and are) the only place on the planet where the Silver Thatch source plant exists. Whereas Sisal ropes were plentiful until Nylon came along. Different markets and products, and a quantum different in terms of scale of production.




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  4. Anonymous says:

    Please make these celebrations worthwhile: by setting the record straight regarding the ……….,. To the east and take this time to disregard that pineapple.!!!! That will be a job well done!!!!!!! What a celebration that will be!!!!




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  5. Anonymous says:

    Apologies if I offend anyone, but having read Lawson Wood’s “Shipwrecks of the Cayman Islands” and Roger Smith’s excellent book, “The Maritime Heritage of the Cayman Islands”, I have a much clearer understanding of the long, violent, and exploitive history of the Cayman Islands psyche going back half a millennium. Tacit approval from UK Governors in Jamaica, even while deliberately wrecking a few of their own Europe-bound ships was an acceptable price for a steady supply of turtle meat of questionable provenance. The inhabitants were a lawless menace to their neighbours and to all European sailers on the trade winds for almost 400 years, and well-known to Lloyds of London since its founding in 1686. International cautions began hundreds of years before offshore banking was conceived. Given the actual “history and culture” record, it’s probably best to continue to sell the sanitized “success story” to foreign stakeholders. Even in 2018, our Cabinet routinely panders to a widespread pro-exploitive psyche that doesn’t lye far under the surface. Not much has changed from the days of Edward Teach, George Lowther, Edward Low, John Evans, Harris, Evan Rivers, Gideon Ebanks and dozens of others. Case in point, many feel that today’s violent robberies are a justifiable consequence of Caymanians that have been left behind by progress, and applaud their gumption, and/or readily suggest it will get worse! It’s a confusing counter-intuitive response to those not originating from here. Is it in ye nature or nurture that makes ye so?




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  6. Anonymous says:

    Are we going to Seek CAYMANIANS input on the adjustments/design? We need that pineapple GONE!!!
    I really hope that during this time we make our history very very clear when it comes to the the word “dependency” .




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  7. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t Constitution Day already a holiday? 🙁




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    • Anonymous says:

      I wish the gov could have saved the house in spot bay cayman Brac that our first little school was taught by aunt Hessy as every one called her .sad .bracer




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  8. Anonymous says:

    Important thing is: the removal of that pineapple. We must have that removed!




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    • Anonymous says:

      It’s an allegorical reference to the slow-talking people that founded the territory. Today, probably more applicable to one of the stars than the other two.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Pineapples are sweet fruit. Love it nah!




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  9. Anonymous says:

    As to the Coat of Arms, can anyone with correct knowledge explain why and when the thatch rope (on which the turtle sits) became blue and white? Clearly the thatch rope represents the time in our history when that product was a significant export worldwide but …..blue & white??

    We need to be able to accurately educate all and sundry, especially the youth.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Thatch rope was a significant export to whom?




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    • Anonymous says:

      The thatch rope cottage industry developed in early 1900’s to supplant lost income from waning turtle stocks at the Mosquito Cays (the Cayman, Pedro, and Cuban stocks having long-been exhausted by our rangers). It was inferior in strength to the cheaper and more widespread sisal ropes, but it weathered salt water degradation longer, and floated. 25 fathom (150 ft) “rope walks” operated by shore-bound women and children generating peak production of 4 to 5 lengths a day. They were coiled and traded in Jamaica along with non-indigenous turtle and wreck salvage. Dupont’s development of nylon in 1930s ended the sisal and thatch rope markets.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Nylon was not sold until the ‘40’s. The predominant ropes before that were manila and hemp, not sisal. They all float. Thatch rope is a fine handicraft but was never commercially important. The other natural fibers are still in production.




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  10. Anonymous says:

    No one mentioned it yet so I am just going to ask, Public Holiday?




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  11. Anonymous says:

    you couldn’t make this stuff up….
    never been in a place where its born-citizens have such an inflated sense of their own importance.




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  12. Anonymous says:

    so the important question is… Will we get a public holiday? please




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  13. Kim says:

    Public Holidays?




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    • Anonymous says:

      Constitution Day is already a public holiday!! Let’s leave it st that and celebrate Coat of Arms Day with an already established holiday in May.




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