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WITU held an urgent meeting with subsidized school boards concerning vacation allowance

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - President of the Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) Stuart Johnson held an urgent virtual meeting with the Government subsidized school boards.

"The payment of the vacation allowance throughout all schools on St. Maarten has my full attention and I will not stop until everyone receives what is rightfully due to them," Johnson stated.

Present in the meeting was representatives of the SVOBE, SKOS, MAC, CBA, SPCOBE, and NIPA School boards.

The meeting was held on ZOOM on Tuesday, June 28th, 2022 at 1:00 p.m.

“One of the main concerns coming out of the meeting was that school boards feel they are being held hostage with no communication forthcoming from Government,” Johnson said.

“Why is the Government not responding to the school boards or even to the WITU?” Johnson questioned. 

“You write letters and receive no response which is totally unacceptable,” he added.
The 12.5% cut to the annual subsidy of the Government subsidized school boards is having a severe effect on the quality of education and the working morale of staff members.

“Government should be leading by example!” Johnson stated.

"One of the concerns expressed by School Boards are that they received several letters of instruction from the Government of St. Maarten, mandating that the laws on the Cost-cutting measures must be upheld. Additionally, the school boards are required to submit an overview of the percentage calculations for the 12.5%,” Johnson said.

“In the meeting school boards mentioned  without an explicit instruction issued by the government in writing to School boards, releasing them from liability and retracting the instruction on the 12.5% ( for which the vacation allowance is 6%), the boards are not in a legal position to execute the vacation allowance,” Johnson concluded.

A joint letter by the school board and WITU  will be sent to the Minister of Education Drs. Rudolph Samuel to convene an urgent meeting with the WITU and the subsidized school boards within a short timeframe. 

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One SXM reiterates call for referendum

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - On the eve of Emancipation Day, July 1, 2022, the One SXM Association reiterates its call to the Parliament of St. Maarten to hold a referendum “post haste,” consulting the people on independence for the territory, said One SXM member Dr. Rhoda Arrindell.

According to One SXM, “Emancipation was not a gift from any paternalistic monarch who suddenly experienced a change of heart and had a ‘Saul moment.’ Emancipation was a hard-won victory of our ancestors over the evil system of Slavery.”

Arrindell said that “after Emancipation, the recently emancipated people, our ancestors, were still not considered to be human beings but ‘property.’ To the slave owners, Emancipation was the ‘loss’ of their ‘property’ and these wealthy slave owners received handsome payments from the Dutch government while the formerly enslaved people received nothing.”

For One SXM, which has a weekly Saturday program on independence for St. Martin on My88.3 FM radio, “Slavery was replaced by colonialism.”

“Political independence and the rising movement for Reparations or reparatory justice form integral parts of the Freedom project that we are duty bound to pursue. We owe it to our ancestors, to ourselves, our children, and grandchildren,” said Arrindell.

“On this 159th anniversary of Emancipation, we of the One SXM Association, call on all the freedom loving people of the island to join in the struggle for an independent St. Martin nation,” said Arrindell on Tuesday.

“The call for a referendum is at this time a necessary step towards independence because it is the people who must determine their future,” said Arrindell.

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FYI Foundation announces the winners of the Logo and Poetry Contest

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Funtopia Youth Initiative Foundation is in the final stages in preparing for MokoFest, which is slated to be the largest afro-Caribbean Cultural Festival on St. Martin.

This event will be held at the Emilio Wilson Park on Sunday 3rd July 2022 from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. A part of their cultural awareness campaign is to educate the general public about the Soualigan Giant Moko Jumbies, who will be taking the forefront of the event.

From the 75 entries received the Foundation is happy to announce the winners of the logo and poetry competition these amazing young people will be awarded at the Mokofest event. The general public are invited to come and enjoy the full days program and to see some of the entries that will be on display at the event and enjoy the days program.

The winners of the creation of the Soualigan Giants logo competition is 12-year-old Nathannia Golden and second place recognition 19 – year old Leonna David who submitted beautiful Digital designs, which included recognizable symbolism that will now represent the Soualigan tribe of Moko Jumbies.

The winners of the poetry competition are 14-year-old Ajani Blake from Learning Unlimited Preparatory School 9-year-old Diya Asrani from St. Joseph school, who captured the essence of what a Soualigan Giant represents. The judges for both competitions were Dion Gumbs, Charisse Piper and Magueda Jackson.

The foundation would like to extend a profound thank you to the teachers and parents that supported their students and children in participating in this initiative. It was a great initiative where we can see some of the participants really took their time to research and discover what moko jumbie and Soualiga represents and that was the ultimate goal to bring more awareness around the movement.

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The SSS Father’s Day Car Raffle was a huge success

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Hosted by Sint Maarten, Saba, and St Eustatius Lions Clubs, the SSS Father’s Day Raffle final drawing was held on Sunday, June 19th, 2022, and was a huge success. The Grand Prize, a 2022 Hyundai Venue was won by Ms. Claudia Fedrick.

Other winners were Koos Sneek on St. Eustatius, Arlene Halley, Garden Boyz, and Glenda Augusta who won, dinner and lunch vouchers from Cabana Beach Bar, a 40” Samsung Smart TV, a Weekend Stay at Oyster, and Samsung Ear Buds respectively.

President of Sint Maarten Lions Cub Lion Linette A. Gibs, MJF expressed sincere thanks to the entire community of St Maarten for their continued support especially this year since “All funds raised will be used towards eye testing for elementary school children during the upcoming Lionistic year. Not only will their eyes be tested but should they need glasses they will also receive glasses”

President of the Saba Lions Club, Lion Carl Buncamper MJF, and President of the St Eustatius Lions Club, Lion Bernadine Pandt, both echoed the sentiments in thanking the residents on their respective islands who purchased raffles tickets. Funds raised by each club will be used on their island for local projects.

To contribute to the St. Maarten Lions Club contact via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or you can make an online donation at https://sxmlionsclub.org/makeadonation

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Update livestream link to Governor’s Symposium 2022

SINT MAARTEN (HARBOUR VIEW) - On Monday June 27, 2022, the ninth edition of the annual Governor’s Symposium will take place at the American University of the Caribbean (AUC) at Cupecoy. The 2022 Governor’s symposium will focus on the theme: Energy transition in the Caribbean – challenges and opportunities.

The event is by invitation only, however for members of the public that are interested in viewing the event a livestream will be available to the public from 08:30AM, on Monday June 27, 2022, and can be accessed via this updated link:

https://bit.ly/GOV2022

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Open invitation to TelEm Group “FUN Raiser” event Sunday

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The TelEm Group Personnel Association is inviting company employees and members of the general public to a fun day of activities to help raise much-needed funds for three important organizations on St. Maarten.

The day set aside for the event is Sunday, June 26, 2022 from 5:00 am until 5:00 pm.

There will be a host of activities (Powered by TelEm personnel) including a Walk-A-Thon, a Car Wash, Food, Bake Sale & lots to Drink, Music, wet and dry activities for children and adults alike. There will be lots of shaded areas to beat the heat as well as wet-themed activities to keep children and adults cool also.

Event organizers say live entertainment is being provided, with expected performances by the DJ Tete (11am-2pm), King Vers (2pm-3pm) and Control Band (3pm-4.30pm).

Lots of parking will be available at the APS parking pot adjacent to the government building.

All proceeds from the various activities will be donated to the Art Saves Lives Foundation, Babe Ruth Baseball League and the Men’s Mental Health Organization.

“The FUN Raiser Team is really grateful to all TelEm Group staff who have already offered to donate their time and efforts to organize this fun charitable event,” says Marketing Officer, Adrian Lista, on behalf of the Personnel Association. The idea was well received from the onset and staff has been garnering donations, selling tickets, offering their services to assist in any way possible. This is a team effort and all hands are on deck to ensure it’s success.

“Everyone else can help by turning out to participate in the events with their friends and families and also by helping to spread the word about the event so that we can have maximum attendance,” continued, Adrian.

The organizers say the first event of the day will be the round-the-pond walk-a-thon starting at 5:00 am from the TelEm Group main building on Pond Island, for which a $10 ticket to participate in the event will secure a Tabata Fitness session, light breakfast and a walk-a-thon tee-shirt to mark the occasion.

By the end of the day, the organizers are hoping to collect some sizeable funds from donations to assist the three organizations, all of whom are deserving in their own right. The Art Saves Lives Foundation is helping to shine the spotlight on St. Maarten’s aspiring artists, many of whom want to pursue careers in the Arts. Thanks to the work of the Babe Ruth Baseball league in just one year of being formed, a team of talented players from St. Maarten may be making their way to the Bahamas in July to participate in the first ever Caribbean Babe Ruth tournament – just in time for the upcoming baseball season in August. Funds raised will also go to the Men’s Mental Health Organization to help with the group’s focus on mental health issues affecting men and boys in the St. Maarten community.

“Each of the group’s selected for donations from the proceeds of these events are playing a significant role in the positive development of different aspects of our youth in the community and each are deserving of any support we can give them,” said the group’s spokesperson, Mr. Lista.

“Everyone in the community can help just by turning out and having fun with the team of TelEm Group staffers who will be on hand to ensure a good time is had by all,” said Mr. Lista.

Persons, groups and corporate partners wishing to purchase tickets for the TelEm Group Fun Raiser event are asked to call 611 for further information.

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Saba Island Council in the Netherlands

THE HAGUE/SABA—The Saba Island Council is currently in the Netherlands for a series of meetings, work visits and the year congress of the Association of Dutch Municipalities VNG. Commissioner of Social Affairs, Public Health and Housing Rolando Wilson is also in the Netherlands and joins part of the program of the Island Council, in addition to his own program.

The Island Council delegation, consisting of Chairman and Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, Island Council Members Carl Buncamper, Vito Charles, Eviton Heyliger, Esmeralda Johnson, Hemmie van Xanten and Island Registrar Akilah Levenstone, started its working visit on Monday, June 20 and returns to Saba on Sunday, July 3.

The program includes meetings with the Permanent Committees for Kingdom Relations of the First and Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, State Secretary of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sport Maarten van Ooijen and Vice-President of the Council of State Thom de Graaf.

Main topics that were discussed with the First Chamber (on Tuesday, June 21) and the Second Chamber (on Thursday, June 23) included: healthcare, connectivity, cost of living, the notary and banking issue, the number of seats in the Island Council, the Kadaster and the modernization of the Opium Law.

A number of work visit take place to various entities and organizations, such as the Weener XL Social Workplace in Den Bosch, the National Institute for Family Finance Information Nibud in Utrecht, Bazalt Housing in Zaltbommel, “Gezond en Gelukkig” (Happy and Healthy) organization The Hague, the Authority Consumer and Market ACM in The Hague, and the National Coordinator for Discrimination and Racism in The Hague.

The delegation will take part in the VNG year congress in Hoorn on Tuesday, June 28 and Wednesday, June 29. On Friday, July 1, the delegation will attend the annual commemoration of the abolition of slavery Keti Koti (Break the chains) in Amsterdam. On Monday, June 27, the delegation has been invited to be present at the round table discussion about the Dutch slavery past in the Second Chamber where Island Council Member Vito Charles will be one of the guest speakers. The delegation had dinner with Member of the Second Chamber Jorien Wuite of the D66 party on Monday, June 20.

SGIS Meeting with the First ChamberThe Island Council met with the Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations of the First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday, June 21.

SGIS With the Second ChamberOn Thursday, June 23, the Island Council and Commissioner Rolando Wilson met with the Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations of the Second Chamber.

SGIS At the Raad van StateThe delegation visited the Council of State on Tuesday, June 21, where they met with Vice-President Thom de Graaf and Council Advisor Ron van der Veer.

 

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Public and School Community Invited to Wire Bending Exhibition set for June 23

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Sint Maarten National Commission for UNESCO is organizing a ‘Wire Bending Exhibition’ on June 23, 2022. We are inviting schools and the public to visit the exhibition, which will be held at the Philipsburg Cultural and Community Center from 9 am-12 pm on the said date.  

At the exhibition, the outstanding wire bending artwork of students from Sr. Borgia School, MAC Browlia Maillard Campus, and the Oranje School will be on display. The students, under the supervision of Mr. Lambert Holder, have created works of art that they are very proud of and would like to share with all schools and the public. 

The wire bending project was piloted at the MAC Browlia Maillard Campus afterschool program in September 2017.  It was later introduced to the Oranje school afterschool program in January 2018.  It was then launched in the Sr. Borgia afterschool program in the school year 2021-2022. 

The National Commission for UNESCO is very proud of the work that is being produced by the students in the program and looks forward to introducing this wire bending program to other afternoon schools on the island. This ensures that this aspect of St. Martin's cultural heritage continues to live on. 

unesco another class grp

unesco class group

unesco class grp wire proj

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Nature Foundation and California Academy of Sciences meet with Minister of Education to discuss Science and Nature Education Project

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - Representatives of the Nature Foundation St. Maarten and the California Academy of Sciences visited the Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, the honorable Drs. Rodolphe E. Samuel. The purpose of this meeting was to introduce the Minister to the St. Maarten Environmental Learning Seed Project, a new project born from the partnership between the Nature Foundation St. Maarten and the California Academy of Sciences.

The Environment Learning Seed Project is a pilot project that aims to figuratively plant a seed which will foster nature education and increased awareness of our incredible island biodiversity. It is expected that by planting this seed, our youth and by extension St. Maarten’s community will be more in touch with nature on the island and learn to make more environmentally conscious choices in their everyday lives. The Foundation hopes that this project, which is part of the California Academy of Science’s wide-scale Islands 2030 initiative, will be a stepping stone towards getting environmental education placed more permanently on the agenda.

The California Academy of Sciences, a natural history museum and research institution based in San Francisco, California, aims to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. Academy scientists specialize in a wide range of natural sciences. The team that visited the island has begun work to document St. Maarten’s biodiversity with the intention to share this information with relevant authorities to assist in their environmental decision-making processes.

“We have all come to realize that climate change is real, but it is not yet common knowledge that it is directly connected to biodiversity loss and how humans have treated and are still treating mother earth. We hope that with more attention placed on environmental learning, we can start seeing a shift in awareness and values which will lead to adjusted human behavior and lasting positive changes in our environment” explained Eudoxia Williams-James Education Project Coordinator at the Nature Foundation St. Maarten.

The project is divided into multiple phases. In the first phase, a gap analysis is conducted to get a better understanding of what we are teaching and learning in classrooms and beyond, how we experience nature currently, what resources are used and needed, what is working well, and in which areas teachers and students need more support.

At this assessment stage of the project, listening sessions are conducted with key stakeholders such as educators, students, parents, community members and organizations. The information gathered will be used by the Nature Foundation in collaboration with the California Academy of Sciences and local educators to “build on what is existing” through the development of learning resources that will be of value to schools. After analyzing the information gathered in the second phase, the team will be establishing commonalities and information gaps.

During the input and design phase, the Nature Foundation and the Academy will partner with local educators to co-create resources which will eventually become part of the schools’ learning materials. In the new academic year, a pilot phase of implementation will be initiated, and teachers can be supported via professional development workshops if needed.

Minister Samuel, who holds a degree in Environmental Biology and has done scientific research on local species in the past, expressed his support for this project and advised the joint partners that in addition to benchmarking where we are currently regarding environmental knowledge, it is also important to encourage the development of personal relationships between people and environment.

“Many on the island do not attribute certain values to nature,” said Minister Samuel, “because of their upbringing, their culture or the educational system followed. There should therefore be great focus on helping St. Maarten’s youth build a relationship and personalize their connection to the environment, because this will produce ownership and protection.” Minister Samuel also noted that although there have been many changes in our natural environment, there are still many untouched areas and there is a need to protect these areas.

All parties look forward to future collaborative efforts to educate St.Maarten’s youth and by extension the community at large.

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Prime Minister Silveria E. Jacobs Father’s Day Message

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Today we join the rest of the world in celebrating and honoring Fathers and Father figures. Let us as a community take this time to give recognition and show our appreciation and gratitude to fathers, and show them how much we value and honor them.

Fathers have an important role in our society and specifically within the family structure, as they play an important role in how a child develops and ultimately influence the future of St. Maarten. Over the years, the role of the father has evolved, not only are they providers and protectors, they have become equally involved in the nurturing of their children. This is not a role we should take lightly. Fathers have a role in creating safe and stable environments in which their children can develop, grow and thrive.

I know that there are many unsung heroes out there, fathers who are fully present in their children’s lives; fathers who are loving, supportive, and protective providers of stability that each child craves. I salute you for your commitment to be that role model, that tower of strength, who is able to embrace his feelings and emotions, thereby giving his sons and daughters the example of what it means to be a well-balanced male human.

I take this time to congratulate and salute all the fathers who recognized the value of your presence in and influence on your children’s lives. Strong, loving, compassionate children are needed to grow this nation. To those fathers who may not understand how deeply impactful your love, attention and support are for your children, it’s time to step up and take your role and responsibility seriously.

Fathers and father figures, you are an example for your children and especially for our young men. It is therefore a father’s duty to live a life for our children to follow. It is often said that a father is “A son's first hero, a daughter's first love.” As such, I urge all fathers to never forget the awesome responsibility entrusted to you when becoming a father. As a co-parent, it is imperative to ensure your child feels loved, safe, protected, supported, and encouraged to be free to be his/her own authentic self.

Today, I also take time to remember those fathers who have passed leaving a void in their children’s lives. I urge those of us still mourning that loss to take time to pay tribute to the wonderful father he was. Remember the lessons learned and know that his guiding spirit will always be with you.

On behalf of the Government of St. Maarten, I ask the community to join me in wishing all fathers both at home and abroad a wonderfully blessed and happy Father’s Day. Know that you are valued and needed in the lives of your children. May all fathers continue to have God's blessing and grace.

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