Culture Minister Olivia Grange says her Ministry has contributed a further $78 million into the Trust Fund for victims of the 1963 Coral Gardens massacre.
This pushes the Ministry’s contribution to more than $90 million into the Rastafari Coral Gardens Trust, which was officially established in December 2019.
The Trust is managed by the Administrator General of Jamaica.
Grange says this represents the government’s irrevocable commitment to a programme of reconciliation with the Rastafari community.
“There is no doubt that the events of Coral Gardens in 1963 have left physical, psychological and emotional scars on the Rastafari community and in particular on those who survived the incident. It has been decades of pain and anger, but my government is committed to taking the steps to make things right.
“Prime Minister Andrew Holiness has apologised in Parliament to the victims. We have established the trust fund for the survivors; the Public Defender recommend a Fund of no less than 10 million dollars, today we have contributed 90 million dollars into the Fund. And we’re taking other steps, working with the Rastafari Coral Gardens Benevolent Society, and other members of the community, to right this great wrong,” she said.
In addition to the contributions to the Trust Fund, Grange says the Ministry is also giving special housing support for four survivors of the Coral Gardens incident.
“We have provided funding in the amount of $6 million to the Rastafari Coral Gardens Benevolent Society to run an interim care home for four of the survivors who need special care. We are moving to finalise an arrangement with the Benevolent Society for the management of the care home over the next five years, with the aim of establishing a permanent facility for aged survivors. I continue to thank the Benevolent Society, Food for the Poor, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, and our Cultural Liaison on Rastafari Affairs, Mrs Barbara Blake Hannah for all that they continue to do for the survivors,”said Grange.
Blake Hannah, a known expert in Rastafari heritage and matters relating to the welfare of the community, was appointed a Cultural Liaison on Rastafari Affairs as part of the Ministry’s thrust to ensure that matters concerning Rastafari are appropriately addressed.
The Ministry, through the National Council for Reparation, will sponsor the annual commemoration of the Coral Gardens 1963 incident dubbed ‘Bad Friday’ on April 10.
The commemoration will take place online because of the restrictions introduced to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Source: Jamaica Gleaner