Trevelyan family’s slavery apology seen as ‘significant move’ in fight for reparatory justice

Laura Trevelyan (Photo courtesy BBC). Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission Dorbrene O’Marde (File photo).
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A British family’s apology to the Grenadian people for their ancestors’ role in the transatlantic slave trade will open the doors for others to follow suit.

That’s the view of the Chair of the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission Ambassador Dorbrene O’Marde who referred to Monday’s occasion in Grenada as “significant”.

“It opens the door for other families that also profited from enslavement to seek to make some form of repair for the damage they did. I think the most important thing about this is the impact it’s going to have on other families,” he told Observer.

“One of the significant aspects of that apology is the family calling on the British government — which is really the big one — to engage with Caricom governments on this issue of reparations. That is where the importance is.

“We must also remember that this apology follows very, very closely on the apology made by the Netherlands in December and the apology made by the Church of England in early January, and so in the last six to eight weeks we have had an apology from a nation and an apology from a large religious organisation and now we have had an apology from a family,” O’Marde said.

O’Marde was among the main dignitaries who journeyed to Grenada to attend the event along with the Grenada National Reparations Commission and the University of the West Indies Reparations Forum where the Trevelyan family made the public apology at the Country’s Trade Centre.

Their ancestors owned about 1,000 slaves on six different plantations across the Eastern Caribbean island.

Leading the mission was the highest profile member of the modern Trevelyan clan, Laura Trevelyan, a journalist and broadcaster who heads the BBC’s New York office.

Along with the apology, the family donated over £100,000 (US$120,000) to establish an educational fund at the UWI Open Campus in Grenada. The donation comes from money Laura Trevelyan will receive from her BBC pension.

Other family members have also pledged to make donations in the future and give their time to community projects in Grenada.

During the ceremony, Grenada’s Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell led a moment of silence to acknowledge the slaves who endured horrific treatment on the plantations owned by the Trevelyan family.

Mitchell also called on the United Kingdom government and other countries to play their part in facilitating reparative justice for the citizens of Caricom.

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