At midnight last night, Barbados became a parliamentary republic. This means that the Governor General was swapped for a President, who serves under the Prime Minister. From what I can tell, Barbadians were most excited about the fact that there was no curfew last night!

What got the island buzzing this week was that Rihanna had landed to be conferred the Order of National Heroes. The singer, raised just outside of Bridgetown, went on to build a fashion and cosmetics empire. Some debate that she doesn’t deserve the award, yet you have to give credit to someone who came from such humble beginnings and proved where you come from does not determine where you will go.  PM Mia says that she meets the eligibility criteria, so there you go.

This country has some backward tendencies that make me feel like I am living in decades past. Yet, Rihanna, the guest of honour, was presented an award by a female Prime Minister, Mia Mottley. The new President is also a woman, Sandra Mason. Bam! We are catapulting past other countries in this century.

Singer Rihanna was conferred the Order of National Heroes of Barbados

From a time past, Prince Charles was there in support of the transition to a republic, and this excerpt from his speech has already been quoted many times:

The creation of this republic offers a new beginning. From the darkest days of our past and the appalling atrocity of slavery which forever stains our history, people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.

This got me thinking about where Barbados goes from here. It is one thing to break ties with England and the Queen. It is quite another to get down to the business of deconstructing the colonialism that this island was built upon, and you can still see signs of everywhere. When does a country stop deferring to others? How does a society truly feel free?

Let’s face it, Independence Day is a day that was made up to commemorate the independence of Barbados 55 years ago. Days are made up all around the world to commemorate some thing, some people, some event. Critics say it doesn’t mean anything, but it does mark intention. Barbados, demonstrated by the various artists and speakers in last night’s celebrations, intends to take control of their destiny and no longer be at the mercy of another nation.

My friend Kat photographed this free diver at "The Broken Trident" where they have planted live coral - a symbol of Barbados

Here is another day that was made up a few years ago:  Giving Tuesday. Today marks a day of intention that following the indulgence and buying of Black Friday, we will give back a little. Part of me is sad that we need a day to remind people to give. Yet, like Independence Day, it acts as a reminder to do things differently going forward.

Today, I urge you to give to a charity.  In Canada, you can use Canada Helps, a platform that works with charities in performing the administration of donations and tax receipts. At the top of the website, there is a red banner that says they will boost $2 for all donations over $20. Hit DONATE NOW.

Last night I presented the financials at the AGM of the Karen Learning and Education Opportunities Support Group (KLEO), a charity in Thailand that I have acted as Treasurer. Extraordinarily efficient with their funds, they run a boarding house outside Chiang Mai so that Karen people from the mountains can stay there and receive a real education.  I visited both Jen’s House and the Karen people in their villages and can tell you of their tenacity and kindness.

If you are looking for a charity to support, this is an excellent choice. If you already have a charity in mind, this is my little nudge about Giving Tuesday.

Students at Jen's House when I visited January 2019

I am interested in what others think of these days that we “make up.”  Do they give people a day to pause and think? Do they set the intention for different action going forward?