This year, the commemoration of Indian Arrival Day (IAD) in St Vincent will be significantly different. There will be many activities leading to June 1, the officially-recognised IAD. As in previous years, St Vincent and the Grenadines Indian Heritage Foundation will be organising a re-enactment of the landing of Indians at Indian Bay, followed by a procession to Heritage Square, where there will be a display of Indian cuisine, among other activities. For the first time, there will be an International Indian Diaspora Conference from June 1-3. Since 1975, Indian Diaspora Conferences have been held mainly in T&T and other larger territories. However, a decision was taken to organise one this year in St Vincent to coincide with our IAD. It is being organised by the St Vincent and the Grenadines chapter of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin International (GOPIO SVG) in collaboration with the SVG Indian Heritage Foundation, with the support from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. GOPIO is an international organisation representing some 25 million people in the Indian Diaspora.
Participants will come from several countries such as India, Sri Lanka, UK, US, Canada and the Caribbean. Delegates include government ministers and diplomats, as well as other high-level officials. The conference is jointly organised by Dr Kumar Mahabir, co-chair of the GOPIO Academic Council and Professor at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), and Dr Arnold Thomas, GOPIO International Coordinator for the Caribbean. For the three-day period, the conference will begin with the opening ceremony at Peace Memorial Hall on June 1 from 6-8 pm in the presence of Prime Minister, Dr Ralph E Gonsalves. Remarks will also be made by the president of GOPIO International, Minister of Culture, president of the SVG Indian Heritage Foundation and a Minister from Sri Lanka. A cultural presentation is also included in the opening programme. The conference programme for June 2 is from 8.30 am to 1 pm at Murray Heights Hotel, McKie’s Hill, Kingstown. There will be several panels discussing various topics such as conditions under which Indians came, cultural and religious adaptation, and integration and assimilation. Following a lunch break, participants will move to Diamond to join a Seventh Day Adventist Evangelistic crusade, where there will be a special session dealing with the rise of Adventism among Indians in SVG and Belize between 3 pm and 4 pm. On conclusion of this session, participants will return to Murray Heights for the concluding session from 5-8 pm. On June 3, between 9 am and 2 pm, participants will be taken on an island tour to places of interest climaxing in Argyle where SVG Indian Heritage Foundation is having a Family Fun Day. There are also several activities planned for the Argyle event. The public is invited, especially students and teachers.