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MP Duncan Salutes and Thanks Breast Cancer Survivors and Foundations

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Member of Parliament (MP) Solange Ludmila Duncan is publicly saluting the breast cancer survivors who are sharing their personal stories within the community this October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Duncan also recognizes and thanks the Still Beautiful Foundation, Positive Foundation for decades worth of awareness efforts as well as the Elektralytes Foundation, partnering now to also raise awareness and action on prostate cancer.

According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the world’s most prevalent cancer and lately more women ages 35 and up are being diagnosed. It is also recognized that women are still afraid to come forward and talk about this disease.

“I am extremely proud of the women in our community who are breaking the stigma and sharing their experiences as encouragement and support to others who are fighting this disease. Any fighter needs a strong support system and community to win that fight,” mentioned the MP.

“Over the last year, for the first time, I experienced breast cancer up close and personal. My oldest sister and hero Zetsia Shigemoto-Duncan and dear friend and team member Yolanda Jackson-Martina were both diagnosed. I remember seeing my sister for the first time with no hair on her head, no eyebrows. I burst into tears. She comforted me and told me that everything would be fine. I tried to release any fear I had after that. I believed that my sister would fight and win, and she did.”

“When Yolanda told me that she was also diagnosed it hit me hard. She has two beautiful daughters who need her. But just like Zetsia, Yolanda’s fighting spirit inspired me. I remember when she shaved her head with a smile, courageously. I applaud her for taking the brave step to come out to share her story to encourage other women to keep fighting and staying positive despite the challenges.”

“The thing about breast cancer is that for women it goes after what many of us believe are those key components that make us feminine, our hair and breasts. I have now personally experienced breast cancer from the outside and seen the courage and endurance it takes to survive.”

“I encourage all women 35 and over to not only self-exam regularly but to check with their house doctor annually about mammograms. Early detection saves lives and most importantly there is a community of women on the island that are there for support and encouragement.”

“This October I salute and honor all breast cancer survivors and the foundations making strides against the fight of this difficult disease. Your bravery and work are highly appreciated. Thank you.”

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Happy World Teachers Day message from WITU

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – President of the Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) Stuart Johnson issued the following Teachers Day Message to mark the occasion, which is observed on Wednesday, October 5th, 2022.

To the educators of St. Maarten, 

This week, our country acknowledges and commends you for your diligent efforts on behalf of our students. Teachers have one of the most difficult and rewarding jobs because they literally shape and change lives. We honor and thank you for the crucial part you play in assisting children and enhancing the future of our country, especially during Teacher Appreciation Week. 

However, I believe Teacher Appreciation Week needs a new place in our country’s calendar of events. Allowing it to get the true value and recognition it deserves outside of the midterm vacation. 

Designing difficult lessons, guiding students through their learning, giving feedback to students, engaging with parents and families, working with colleagues, reflecting on your instruction, keeping up with research and changes in content and pedagogy, and being a leader in your schools all require a lot of time and effort. 

However, a large portion of the work you perform also involves the intangible; it involves developing that seemingly unexplainable but nonetheless inescapable spark between you and your students.

It exists when you identify every student's potential, even if he or she isn't yet aware of his or her own talents when they enter your classroom. It's there when you see the student sitting quietly in your class, hoping no one will notice that her or his home life has completely collapsed. It's there when you lend a sympathetic ear and support to the student who doesn't have a place to call home, who doesn't have a network of friends outside of the classroom, or who just isn't sure where he or she belongs. It's there when you provide food to a hungry child, speak with a student who has missed class, and create a community in your classroom where everyone feels comfortable.

You are supporting the development of students' strong character characteristics, which they will utilize to make decisions on a regular basis. You are encouraging lifelong learners, empowering people to take part more actively in our democracy, and, most significantly, you are allowing students the freedom to choose, enabling them to have an infinite number of possibilities for their career and life pathways.

So, I undoubtedly appreciate you for giving our students more power and by never giving up until every child has access to quality education. Thank you for performing this important work without expecting recognition; nonetheless, please know that the WITU and I believe that teaching ought to be elevated and honored.

In closing, I'm appreciative of all teachers for performing this tremendously difficult but vitally necessary work for the students in our country.

Happy World Teachers’ Day!

Yours in education, 

Stuart Johnson 

President of the WITU 

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SHTA, BZSE hold First of Seminars on new Labor Law

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Last Thursday, the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA) and BZSE Attorneys at Law held one out of two seminars pertaining to the new Labor Law that was published in 2021 which, came into force October 1.

Due to the absence of a transitional law and some amendments that are completely new for Sint Maarten, BZSE and SHTA saw it as imperative to inform SHTA’s membership soonest during a series of masterclasses.  

Fifteen years in the making, the new labor law (Civil code book 7) include some profound changes for the St. Maarten labor force, though not “an earthquake” in the words of BZSE’s Camiel Koster.

Various changes will impact the duration of definite employment contracts. Other topics that will change pertain to gender discrimination, sickness leave, transfer of enterprise, languages used in contracts and the rights of parents.

Though the law is partially intended to cut short the “revolving door” effect by employers, BZSE has not seen many court cases in this category over the past decades. What the law does do is modernize Sint Maarten law and bring Sint Maarten more in line with European Union standards.

It is clear that the lack of transitional law, that is customary when a change may affect legal certainty for citizens, will provide an unpredictable first few months of enacting the law. BZSE lawyers Suhendra Leon and Camiel Koster: “Possibly, a repair law will follow. Until then, the omission of the transition by government is prone to lead to court cases. It can be expected that case law will guide the way pertaining to this matter soon.”

Due to overdemand amongst SHTA membership, a SECOND edition of the master class will follow on Thursday October 6th. Contact the SHTA office via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 542-0108 to sign up.

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World Food Day Cooking Demonstration. Register Now

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Great Bay- In observation of World Food Day, the Department of Community Development, Family & Humanitarian Affairs (CDFHA) is hosting four (4) live cooking demonstrations on at the Rupert I. Maynard Community Center on October 17, 20, 24, 27, 2022 and November 3rd at the Sundial School from 6.30pm to 8pm. 

World Food Day is observed annually on 16 October to promote global awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and to highlight the need to ensure healthy diets for all. The free cooking demonstrations aim to introduce attendees to several basic techniques to prepare quick, easy, and inexpensive recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, and beverages.

To participate, clients are required to meet the following criteria: Net income of Naf 2000 or less; receives financial assistance from the Government of St. Maarten; Unemployed & underemployed; Ability to attend all four (4) sessions.   

For additional information please visit or contact any of the following Help Desks: Cole Bay +1721-5203415; St. Peters +1721-5484633; Dutch Quarter +1721-5207651.

Registration ends on Friday October 7, 2022. Seating is limited.   

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Flow supports K1 DIRECT Disaster Training

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - FLOW team members joined volunteers of K1 Disaster Relief and Crisis Team (K1 DIRECT) during a recently held disaster management training session focused specifically on providing psycho-social support to the community in disaster situations. The telecom Operator funded the training sessions, and the training plan provided the participants with the skillset to identify and manage distress and severe stress situations.

‘We would like to say thank you to FLOW and their team for partnering with us for this training and for seeing the importance of it.’ says Josiah Lamothe, K1 DIRECT Program Manager “As a disaster relief team, this training is very important for us to stay prepared not only physically but mentally. It helps us to be better prepared to manage people and their emotions in high stress moments in a disaster, which is important in our role as disaster first responders. ‘Lamothe continues. 

K1 DIRECT is the pilar of the K1 Britannia Foundation which focusses on providing critical support to communities after a natural disaster such as a hurricane, but also with crises such as the recent COVID19 lockdowns and its implications on the community. They do so on St. Maarten but will also deploy to other islands/ countries in the region to support local disaster relief efforts in terms of coordination and manpower.

‘We were happy to support the K1 DIRECT volunteers in strengthening the skills they tap into when confronted with the very real and serious situations that arise in the aftermath of a disaster. We commend them for their readiness to help in times that our community needs it most.’ comments Rauf Engels, Statutory Director of Flow.

‘We were also very pleased that our own team had the opportunity to join the sessions to learn valuable new skills. We’ll use the learnings from the course to be there for our own staff in an even more meaningful and comprehensive way. The psychological impacts of disasters are often not recognized as immediately as physical injury or other visible material damage, but that doesn’t make it any less important. We’re happy to support a community partner that recognizes that importance’.

‘Thanks to FLOW for not only partnering with us for this training, but for also assisting with our DIRECT communications for a year.’ adds K1 Britannia management team member, Chiaira Bowers ‘Partnerships like these are what makes it possible to maintain and expand as a non-profit organization with a volunteer disaster relief and crisis team. We look forward to a continued partnership with FLOW as we continue to stay prepared and ready to assist affected communities locally or regionally.’ 

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MOONLIGHT GOLF LIGHTS UP MULLET BAY GOLF COURSE

SINT MAARTEN (MULLET BAY) - Over the weekend 31 avid golfers split up in eight teams and headed out to Mullet Bay Golf Course to show off their skills in the softly star-lit darkness.

Geared up with glowing golf balls and a pair of flashlights each team was trying to score as low as possible. After a fierce battle, lost balls and near hits the surprising winner of this year’s Moonlight Scramble was the team comprised of Frederic Boureau, Laurent Mesguich, Ludovic Brun and Nicolas Doublecourt who ended the 10 holes stroke play event with a total score of 34 net.

With a relatively low average handicap the French team proved that practice makes perfect, even in the dark.

Second prize was won by the team of Jeroen Leffers, Jan Drost and Tom Akkerman and Andy Holmes with a total score of 35 net. Third prize was taken by team of Lee Hallam, David Donoghue, Andrew Ewing and Scott Sitra with a total net score of 35 as well.

After the golf a wonderful prize giving ceremony was hosted at La Tortuga situated at the beach at Royal Islander La Plage, all teams enjoyed snacks and drinks until late at night.

For more information on this this tournament or membership please contact the Golf Shop at the Mullet Bay Golf Course or check out the SMGA Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/St.MaartenGolfAssociation

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Bervoets to Leave Position as Director of DCNA

SINT MAARTEN/BONAIRE - The Director of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) Tadzio Bervoets will be stepping down from his position as of the end of September.   

With a heavy heart I’m announcing that I will not be renewing my position as the Director of the DCNA. For three wonderful years I have had the opportunity to lead this wonderful organization with the most dedicated Board and team members I could have ever hoped for. I will also continue to support the DCNA Network and its member organizations to the best of my ability”, mentioned Bervoets. He will be returning to his native Sint Maarten.   

The DCNA regrets that they will lose a skilled and passionate employee with the departure of Tadzio Bervoets, but the organization has no choice but to respect this personal choice. “We would like to thank Tadzio for everything he has done for the DCNA, its members and the nature in the Caribbean,” said DCNA President Dr. Mr. Hellen van der Wal, “and we wish him best of luck and success on his new adventures. We are sure that our paths will cross again, and that cooperation will continue in another way.” 

The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) is a regional partnership of conservation organizations, including the national parks on the six islands of the Dutch Caribbean (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten) and is intended to support and strengthen the nature on the islands. 

The purpose of DCNA is to protect the extensive biological resources and promote sustainable development of the natural resources of these islands, both on land and at sea. To do so, DCNA is developing sustainable funding sources such as a trust fund, building capacity through training workshops and promoting the overwhelmingly beautiful and unique nature, ranging from exuberant rainforest to coral reefs and pearl white sand dunes. 

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Soon Series Day 1, a full fleet racing day in amazing conditions

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Twenty-seven (27) candidates participated for Soon Series Day 1 on September 24th. Sint Maarten Yacht Club held their annual Dinghy Race, called the Soon Series. Competitors from Saint Barths and Friars Bay French Saint Martin and students from the Sint Maarten Yacht Club sailing school signed up and took part in the race. The Soons Series are part of the Grant Thornton Dinghy Season Championship.

The Soon Series race day 1 consisted of 4 races and 4 distinct classes of sailboats, The RS Quest, RS Zest, Laser and the Optimist.

With two competitors in the RS Zest class, Robbie Ferron took the win over Massimo Lapierre, who came in second.

In the RS Quest class, it was a battle between the Sint Maarten Yacht Club and the Saint Barths Yacht Club. Joris and Axel vanden Eynde from team SXM took the win over the French team of Antonin Scion and his crew.

In the Laser class 11 competitors raced for the win. Jordan Pieterse came in third place, Emilien le Normand came in second, but it was Justin Pieterse that took the win with only 5 points out of four races.

There was a big interest for the Optimist Racing Class as well, 13 boats sailed and tried to beat each other. Sarah Michaux came in third place; Clement le Normand came in second and Corentine Corroy took the win of the class.

"As this was one of the first races of the new sailing season, we saw that the competitors were excited to race again after a summer of waiting and preparation. The kids were raging with excitement and ready for the racing.” Said sailing instructor Grace. The parents were also involved in the race getting they kids ready. “Competition was tight” said one of the parents after racing.

The first days of the Soon Series was a success, well planned preparation and teamwork was done to have this racing day set and ready. With Soon Series Day 2 coming up on Saturday October 8th, Sint Maarten Yacht Club would like to encourage the youth and fellow experienced sailors to register.

SMYC sailing competitors pix1

 

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Ottley celebrates return to 'pre-COVID' arrival numbers on World Tourism Day

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - As we welcome new and returning visitors to our shores and lift travel restrictions following the impact of the global pandemic COVID-19 on travel and commerce over the past two years and ten months, the theme of this year's World Tourism Day fittingly encourages "Rethinking Tourism."

Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation & Telecommunication (TEATT), the honourable Omar Ottley, said he is encouraged by the statistics showing visitor arrivals for 2022. Minister Ottley noted, "For Quarter one of 2022, we received 101,919 arrivals, the highest performing Quarter since 2017, while for Quarter 2 and 3, we received an estimate of 421,416 arrivals, also the highest performing since 2017."

"Perhaps more so now than in times past, the people of St. Maarten deserve to celebrate today, World Tourism Day, with pride. I must commend the restauranteurs, bartenders and servers, Hoteliers and employees, transportation industry workers Taxi Drivers, Tour Operators and those in the Car Rental Agencies for their dedication and commitment to the growth of our tourism industry over the years," said Ottley.

"From the businessman and woman throughout the island to the men and women who keep our island clean, your significant contributors to our economy and tourism industry make you unsung heroes."

"I commend you for your contribution over the years to our tourism product which has made it easy for us to build our economy back stronger," said Ottley.

Ottley said that the United States (US) and European markets have already exceeded pre-COVID-19 numbers. "The US and European markets are showing full recovery after the pandemic and exceeding pre-pandemic numbers in visitor arrivals," said Ottley.

The Minister did note that the arrival numbers from the Canadian Market and South America and the Caribbean markets are slow to improve mainly due to travel restrictions from the origin countries and reduced flight frequency.

Despite the challenge in some areas, the projected growth rate for 2022 in Airline and Cruise passenger arrivals still stands at 20-30%. This projection translates to around 500,000 passenger movements on more than 3400 flights at the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) and approximately 1 million cruise passengers with hopes of returning to pre-COVID-19 arrival numbers in 2023.

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Sint Maarten To Host First Annual Food Festival This November

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Tourism Bureau and the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association announced the Dutch Caribbean island’s first annual food festival, dubbed “St. Maarten Flavors”. Taking place throughout November, now recognized island-wide as culinary month, local restaurants are invited to participate by creating prix fixe menus highlighting select dishes at special price points. In addition to showcasing food specialties, restaurants will also be curating additional experiences to make dining even more unique - from live music and DJs to DIY sushi sessions.

As a Caribbean hub due to its central location, St. Maarten is home to a wide variety of cultures and influences including Trinidadian, Asian, Dutch, Italian and many more, which are all reflected in the island’s varied culinary offerings. The goal of “St. Maarten Flavors” is to both give local restaurants a platform to showcase their diverse creations as well as invite visitors and locals alike to immerse themselves in the dynamic food scene at an accessible price point.

Twenty two restaurants and counting have confirmed their participation in St. Maarten Flavors thus far: Aziana, Bamboo House, Bold Buddha, Bovin Steakhouse, Dutch Blonde Beach Bar, Emilio’s, Infinity, Irie Garden, Jai’s Contemporary Fusion Cuisine, Jax Steakhouse, La Patrona, Ocean Lounge, Pineapple Pete’s, Pink Pearl, Pure Ocean, Topper’s, Sale & Pepe, SALT, Spices of India, Three Amigos and Veranda Market & Bistro. Offerings will range from samplers or one course bites starting at $17.50 to full three course dining experiences at $49.00.

“We are delighted to dedicate the month of November to our local restaurants and give patrons a taste of just how much our culinary scene has to offer,” said Omar Ottley, acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport, and Telecommunication. “From our fine dining options to roadside lolos, the local flair and international influence shine through with every dish. We invite all to attend and get a taste of St. Maarten’s flavors, and look forward to showcasing this annual event to visitors from around the world -- giving them a reason to return for favorites and new flavors, year after year.”

Additionally, Dutch, French and other international chefs have an opportunity to showcase their skills throughout Fete de la Cuisine, which is making its comeback in St. Maarten from November 4-12 after a five-year absence. Scheduled events include a wine pairing and six-course meal led by seven international chefs, spirits tastings, fundraising dinners and more. St. Maarten also shares its land mass with French Saint Martin on the north side, which is hosting the second annual Festival Gastronomie from November 11-22 – making it the perfect month for foodies who want to visit the island for a well-rounded, immersive experience.

For a complete list of participating restaurants or more information, visit https://www.stmaartenflavors.com

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