First female governor general of Grenada sworn into office

Nicole Best 

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Tuesday May 7, 2013 – The first ever female Governor General of Grenada was sworn into office on Tuesday with Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell saying that her inauguration serves as a “beacon of hope that can inspire a whole nation”.

Former head of the Public Service Commission, Dr. Cecile La Grenade, took the oath of office before Justice Margaret Price-Findlay and becomes the second woman to be head of state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique.

Dame Hilda Bynoe, who died earlier this year, became the island’s first Governor when Grenada attained statehood status from Britain in 1967. She was also the first Governor in the Commonwealth.

Dr. La Grenade, a United States trained food technologist, succeeds Sir Carlyle Glean and Prime Minister Mitchell said the inauguration sets a new national tone and “also allows us to once again, make a bold national statement about the value we place on women leadership.

“We are pleased to note that her swearing in breaks the tradition of nominating Heads of State who came into office after having recent connections to a party’s political process. She has not been an MP or a member of the executive of a party like our last three nominees had been.

“And while all are men with great attributes and are well meaning, there might have been a quiet suspicion among the population – rightly or wrongly – that in the heat of political battles, our Head of State might have a team in the fight.  This will definitely not be the case now,” said Mitchell, who was returned to government in the February 19 general election after a five year stint as Opposition Leader.

He told the ceremony that the appointment of the island’s sixth Governor General is consistent with the message of atonement of this current era.

“We are conscious that in building this new society of ours, moving forward – in both style and substance – we must seek to appeal always to what unites us. This House of the Governor General is now the national home; and all of its children can hereon– figuratively – find a place here,” Mitchell said.

“Her inauguration comes in the year that Grenadians elected the most women ever to its parliament. It also comes in the year when we have been paying tribute to Lady Dame Hilda Bynoe – a trailblazer in her own right; who died earlier this year.

“She has all the attributes needed in a Head of State – a non-polarizing single beacon of hope that can inspire an entire nation. 

“Her Excellency can and will rise above the partisanship, and can use her office to shun activism, and instead, spur national consensus,” he added.

In her speech, Dr. La Grenade, who was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) from Queen Elizabeth II for her work in managing Grenada-based De La Grenade Industries, said while she is “acutely aware of the historic nature of this appointment” she is nonetheless “honoured and humbled by the confidence placed in me with this appointment.

She said following in the “formidable footsteps” of Dame Hilda will not be an easy task, intends to use her philosophy of service to the country as her guiding light during her tenure in office.

She said she would also be guided by the principles enshrined by her mother, Sybil La Grenade, a pioneer in the field of home economics who took her vocation from a cottage industry to a commercial agro processing plant here and her grandmother, Eva Oliver Sylvester, the first female to be elected to the Legislative Council in Grenada.

“All of these women pioneers …were strong, committed, patriotic and dedicated individuals who seized the opportunity, not just to make history, but to use the positions of power, decision making and leadership for the greater good of the people they served.

“I have every intention of doing my utmost to continue the legacy that they have already established, the foremost being innovation, scholarship, service and patriotism. My single ambition is to exercise the functions of this esteemed position with grace and honour in the manner in which the eminence of this high office dictates,” she told legislators, former prime minister Tillman Thomas, diplomats and the general public.

She said that she would also be using her office to help develop young people, particularly women as well as seeking to restore a number of historical buildings in the tri-island state.

She said education would also be a major agenda of her activities during the five-year term.

“Indeed there is compelling evidence that if we do not keep up with the currency of modern information, communication technology as an integral part of the education process, our growth and development of a nation will be stunted by this delay or omission,” she added. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)