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Thursday, Dec 07, 2023

Next constitution should give protection to ‘indigenous BVIslanders’ — Willock

Next constitution should give protection to ‘indigenous BVIslanders’ — Willock

Former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Julian Willock said he believes the next version of the territory’s constitution should contain “some protection for the indigenous Virgin Islander”.
“I make no apology for that,” Willock said on the Talking Points radio show earlier this week. “And there must be certain positions, for example the Premier’s position, [which] must be reserved for an indigenous Virgin Islander. I make no apology for that,” he added.

The topic of special privileges and protections for BVIslanders has always divided the public as many believe those arguments are xenophobic and disregard the contribution of expatriates who are overrepresented in the BVI.

The term “indigenous BVIslander” is also controversial as some see it as a term locals use to shame those they believe do not have adequate ties to the territory.

In making his point on the radio show, Willock said his definition of an indigenous Virgin Islander is someone who can trace “one or both of your parents back to two or three generations.”

After Willock made that point, co-host of the Talking Points radio show Damion Grange posited that arguments about “indigenous Virgin Islanders” disenfranchise people who were born in the territory but cannot trace their VI ancestry to three generations.

Willock said the kind of protection he is championing should be done in a way that doesn’t disenfranchise others. But he argued that special protection for those deemed indigenous is done in other jurisdictions around the world.

“The issue of protecting indigenous people is nothing new. It seems like it’s only an issue when it is raised in the BVI. Canada has protections for indigenous people, Trinidad & Tobago has the same,” Willock argued.

Willock is the second public figure to publicly define the term “Virgin Islander” in recent months.

In July, former legislator Eileene Parsons sparked public debate when she defined a Virgin Islander as one who is able to trace his parentage back to three generations of Virgin Islanders on both sides.

In the meantime, there are still many Virgin Islanders who bear similar sentiments to those expressed by Willock and Parsons and believe special privileges should be reserved for people who have deep ancestral ties to the Virgin Islands.

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