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Juliette Barnwell saluted as a champion of the elderly
By Matt Maura, BIS
Sep 23, 2016 - 3:09:14 PM

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Mrs. Juliette Barnwell. (Photo/Courtesy Charles Sawyer)

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Sharon Griffin Thursday paid tribute to former National Council on Older Persons Chairman, Mrs. Juliette Barnwell, as a woman of substance, nation builder, patriot and champion of the rights of older persons throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

A former educator, lecturer, union and Credit Union executive, school board president, protocol expert and Secretary to the Governor-General, amongst her many other life achievements, Mrs. Barnwell died on Sunday, September 11, 2016. Her remains will be laid to rest on Saturday, September 24, following services at Christ Church Cathedral.

Mrs. Barnwell assumed responsibility as Chairperson of the Council in November 2011, two years after the Council was established in 1999 to review and make recommendations to the Government on matters related to the care, protection and recognition of older persons within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Her work resulted in the preparation of the document “Rationale for Proposed Legislation for Older Persons in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas” which was approved August 30, 2016, by Cabinet for Draft Legislation for the Care and Protection of Older Persons. The Draft Legislation will be prepared by officials in the Office of the Attorney General.

“As Chairman of the Council, Mrs. Barnwell was extremely concerned about the elderly and what appeared to be a lack of respect for them, their views and their continued participation in family and in society in a meaningful way,” Mrs. Griffin said.

“She was also concerned about their welfare and their care and protection from neglect and physical and financial abuse. Today, as we launch activities for the (commemoration of) United Nations International Day on Older Persons and the commencement of Older Persons Month, 2016, in The Bahamas, we pay tribute to this historian, nation builder, patriot and champion for the rights of older persons throughout this country.”

The daughter of the late Dr. Claudius R. Walker and Mrs. Mabel C. Walker (both of whom have had schools named in their honour for their contributions to Bahamian education), Mrs. Barnwell made her own significant mark on the Bahamian landscape, having taught at schools such as Xavier’s College, Southern Senior School and Harold Road Secondary (now A.F. Adderley). She also served as a lecturer for the Bahamahost Programme and the Public Service Training Centre in protocol, communications and ethics.

In 1970, she was transferred to the Curriculum Division of the Ministry of Education, responsible for Language Arts, and later to the Management Division, responsible for Family Island Schools. Mrs. Barnwell also acted as Personnel Officer in the Ministry of Education and was later attached to the Supervisory Division. She was promoted to the post of Secretary to the Governor-General and held the post for 12 years.

Her contributions to the country went even further. Mrs. Barnwell served on the Executive Board of the Bahamas Union of Teachers; President of St. John’s Prep and St. John’s College, Parents Teachers Associations; President of the Bahamas Cooperative League; Director and President of the Public Worker’s Cooperative Credit Union and as President of the National Association of School Boards - which she organized in 2001.

Mrs. Barnwell also served as Chairperson of the C.R. Walker Secondary School Board and has served as a member of the Labour Tribunal, as a Lay Magistrate and as a Justice of the Peace.

“Today, as I pay tribute to Mrs. Juliette Barnwell, I remember her as a woman of substance, a strict disciplinarian who believed in order and one who cared deeply about her God, her family and her country. She was committed to serving them all literally until her last breath,” Mrs. Griffin said.

“During her tenure as Chairman of the National Council on Older Persons, she executed her responsibilities with a high degree of passion, commitment, knowledge, integrity and professionalism.

“As we get set to observe the International Day of Older Persons and commemorate October as Older Persons Month, we do so with a heavy heart because we are also mourning the passing of Mrs. Barnwell,” Mrs. Griffin added.

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