Below are remarks, under the theme “A Long Knitted Relationship”, delivered by Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony, on the occasion of the unveiling of the bust in honour of Charles Eugene Gabriel de la Croix de Castries George V Park, Castries, Saint Lucia, on Tuesday, April 7, 2015:
Ladies and gentlemen, good morning: Today’s ceremony is representative of another one of many threads in the long knitted relationship between Saint Lucia and France.
Undeniably, France has been the nation most heavily involved in the early settlement and formation of the Saint Lucia; for while the British were about capitalising Saint Lucia’s military value for their eighteenth and nineteenth century stratagems, the French were keen on establishing settlements and estates, building roads and raising families and constructing a society in their colonial image.
And thus, the names of most of our settlements are influenced by the notions of these early French settlers and inhabitants.
Many of our places are named for individuals who were governors or who played critical roles in the island’s development: D’Ennery, De Micoud, De Laborie, Choiseul. De Castries falls within this class of place names, with the Marquis de Castries being part of a French expeditionary force in 1756 which failed to win Saint Lucia back to the French. It was later restored under the Treaty of Paris seven years later in 1763.
The settlement which is now the city of Castries began its formation in the 1740s. Saint Lucia quickly developed as an extension of the already well-established Martinique colony.
This year marks the two-hundred and thirtieth year of the renaming of the settlement of Carenage to the name Castries. Castries, in the eyes of European colonisers, has long been the military prize of Saint Lucia. Its natural, well sheltered deep water harbour presented the one of the best anchorages in all the islands, giving Saint Lucia its original Latin motto, “Statio Haud Male Fina Carinis,” A Safe Anchorage for Ships.” The deep maritime heritage of the site was well understood in its original name given by French Settlers; that of Le Carénage. This is because the original French settlement at what is now known as Ganters’ Bay was a place where boats could have easily been careened for repair.
Thus, in 1785, the settlers of the day thought it best to honour Charles Eugene Gabriel de La Croix de Castries with naming the main town of the island after him.
It was said that he played a critical role as Minister for the Navy in returning Saint Lucia to France under the Treaty of Versaille in 1782. And so, centuries on, despite revolutionary fervour and Independence, the name of Castries lives on here in our capital city. This current location for this bust is perhaps more fitting than the first in a few respects.
First, there is the irony of the peace that Saint Lucia now enjoys. No longer is there warfare between British and French, so much so that a French Minister for the Navy can find honour in park named after a British Sovereign.
Secondly, the gaze of the bust is directed to the sea, to Castries Harbour, to place that De Castries would have marvelled at for its safety and security for ships.
Lastly, it speaks to the broader awakening of Castries to its history and to itself. It becomes the centrepiece of this open space providing student and visitor alike an opportunity to remember the forces that shaped our identity.
I wish to thank the Government of the French Republic for their assistance in honouring the shared legacy of France and Saint Lucia. Saint Lucia is a part of the Francophonie, it is a part of this heritage through our language and traditions. Our spirits and our souls know each other well.
Again, ironically, France, through the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), is assisting the Saint Lucia Government in a feasibility study on wastewater for Castries, aimed at cleaning up what was once a beautiful and clean harbour.
I thank too, the distinguished Ambassador, for understanding the need for relocating this bust, once the decision had been made to erect a statute in honour of our national hero, Sir John Compton near the place occupied by the bust.
Let us ensure that these powerful bonds of friendship continue to grow, even beyond the names of places that define us.
I thank you.