May 1 is observed every year as the day for workers, but a bill passed in the Upper House will see Indian Arrival Day also being celebrated on the same day.
The Bank Holiday Amendment Bill was tabled in the Senate last Thursday to give the go head to the Indian community to mark on their calendars May 1st – Indian Arrival Day.
According to the presenter of the bill, Minister of Culture and Heritage, Sen. Brenda Hood, the first ship with Indians arrived in Grenada on January 27th, 1857, bringing in 287 persons and over a period of time a total of 3,206 Indians were on the island working as indentured workers.
“They came from India to Grenada. By 1890, they came to work as indentured labourers after the emancipation of the African slave trade. At that point in time, 380 of them returned to India, although a small number remained in Grenada, many of them continued to work in plantations and made contributions towards the development of Grenada,” Sen. Hood said.
“As a result, many of them because they had to move to different plantations, many of their customs and religions were all depleted because they did not have the opportunity to continue, however many of them remained here and continue to promote their culture,” she added.
The next commencement of the Indian Arrival day was held more than five decades later in 2009 by the Indio-Grenada Heritage Foundation and in May 2016, the government of Grenada officially declared Indian Arrival day as May 1st in conjunction with the established Labour Day.
President of the Senate, Chester Humphrey lauded the government for making official the day of celebration of Indians.
“It’s the proper thing to do and you will recognise that the TUC immediately came on board with this because in effect the people of Indian decent arrived here as workers. So it’s a fitting day to celebrate as we celebrate international workers day. It’s an expression of the struggle of all workers whether they came here by indentureship or they came here by slavery. It’s the appropriate thing to do and I am really pleased that this bill is before the House,” Humphrey stated.
Labour Representative in the Senate, Ray Roberts echoed the sentiments of the President.
“For the last four, five years, maybe a little longer, we have engaged the Indian community on May Day which is the significant workers day…The Indian community has always found a way to work with us. In fact, on May Day, a couple years ago we allowed them to make a speech on (the) platform. So over the years we have engaged them…we have had a very cordial and respective relationship with the Indian Community…they have integrated well into the community. They have contributed to our social and economic well being and the workers movement doesn’t see that as a conflict for May Day but think it’s a compliment,” he remarked.