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Tributes for queen of First Peoples
The Santa Rosa First Peoples Community is mourning the death of its Queen Jennifer Cassar.
Cassar, 66, died on Thursday after a brief illness. She would have celebrated her birthday on August 4.
She was elected Queen of the Santa Rosa First Peoples’ Community in 2011, until her death.
Cassar succeeded then “Carib Queen” Valentina Medina, who died at the age of 78.
A statement from the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community said Cassar would be remembered “as being a very warm, humble and compassionate Queen of the Community, who worked tirelessly with the young Community members.”
She was a cultural activist for over 20 years and known for her advocacy for the arts.
In extending condolences to the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community and Cassar’s family, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, in a statement said Cassar was one of the key advocates who lobbied Government to honour a long-standing call for a one-off holiday to formally recognise her Community’s presence and contribution to our country.
Government granted the request and the holiday was celebrated on October 13th, 2017 with Cassar leading a procession through the streets of Arima.
Rowley said Cassar worked tirelessly to sensitise the country to the role and contributions of the First Peoples Community and continuously strived to preserve and revitalise Amerindian history and traditions.
“Queen Cassar’s life was a true depiction of dedication and devotion to her Community and service to the people. May she rest in peace,” the statement said.
Also paying tribute was Arima MP Anthony Garcia, who in a statement said: “As the First Peoples mourn this loss so too do the people of Arima, as Mrs Cassar was a symbol of strength, will and power within this community.
“Though today we feel sadness having experienced this loss, I feel comforted by the fact that as Carib Queen Jennifer Cassar was able to experience the celebration of the First People across Trinidad and Tobago in 2017. This celebration and recognition of the community showed to all of us the vigour, energy and excitement that was Jennifer Cassar as she ceremoniously paraded through the streets in this celebration.”
“Today I take the opportunity to again express my humblest gratitude to Mrs Jennifer Cassar for her yeoman service to the First Peoples Community, to the Borough of Arima and to Trinidad and Tobago. May her life be an example to those in and outside of the Carib community and may her legacy be carried with love, light and positivity. May she rest in peace,” Garcia stated.
Chief Ricardo Bharath-Hernandez described her death as a great loss to the Community, especially coming on the eve of the Santa Rosa De Lima Festival on August 26th 2018, which will mark the 223rd Anniversary of this Festival.
“She was indeed a Queen, for our time,” Bharath-Hernandez stated.
Cassar leaves to mourn her husband Augustin Cassar, a retired school principal and Cadet Force officer, and children, Vanessa Cassar-Blakely and John Cassar.
Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.
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