Following the advice of the BVI Public Holidays Review Committee, Cabinet decided on December 2, 2020 that Territory Day would be replaced by Virgin Islands Day.
According to Deputy Premier and Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7), in a statement today, the shift from Territory Day to now Virgin Islands Day reflects a renewed sense of national consciousness and represents an effort to assert our unique identity as Virgin Islanders.
“It is a recognition that as Virgin Islanders that are a part of the Caribbean family, we have a distinct and separate culture and history that have shaped us to who we are today.”
Sharing some history, Dr Wheatley said Territory Day came about when the Colony of the Leeward Islands was dissolved and the Virgin Islands became a stand-alone Colony of the United Kingdom on July 1, 1956. Before 1978 the holiday was named, Colony Day as it was thought that ‘Territory’ was a more appropriate name than ‘Colony’.
He said as a stand-alone Colony, the Virgin Islands legislature could then make laws for itself rather than having laws imposed on it by a federal legislature; therefore, this change represented greater autonomy for our legislature.
Dr Wheatley also reminded that in efforts to become a more self-determined people, Cabinet of the Virgin Islands approved new holidays from this year moving forward, such as Heroes Day in October and 1949 March and Restoration Day in November.
“We will use these days to continue to celebrate our heroes, our political autonomy, certain events in our history, our past legislators, and the like,” Dr Wheatley stated.