The government’s Island Identity project was launched yesterday and aims to explore the different elements that define Jersey, while also considering how such qualities might be nurtured and celebrated.
International Development Minister Carolyn Labey outlined the initiative in a speech to the States Assembly, summarising discussions that had taken place since a policy board – which she chaired – was convened in October 2019.
Deputy Labey said it was important to consider how Jersey could change with the times, embrace diversity, be a welcoming place for immigrants and play its part in an increasingly interconnected world, yet still preserve and nurture its uniqueness.
‘There is a profound and almost universally shared sense that what we have in Jersey is special and worth protecting, yet also a widespread feeling that something is being lost,’ she said.
The launch of the project came two days after Jersey marked the 76th anniversary of Liberation, with calls from the Bailiff for 9 May to become a ‘national day’ that was relevant to everyone in the Island.
The Bailiff, Timothy Le Cocq, described Liberation Day as ‘a day about who we are, how we see ourselves and what it means to be us’. He said the day was founded on the ‘enormous’ event of Liberation, but also needed to move on in order to allow an opportunity to consider how the occasion might evolve.
Deputy Labey, who was asked to lead the project by Chief Minister John Le Fondré, urged all Islanders to share their views, in order to ensure the identity project was as inclusive as possible.
Over the summer months there will be opportunities to participate in ‘pop-up’ events and focus groups and to ‘join the discussion’ via social media and the islandidentity.je website.
Deputy Labey said she believed the time was right to consider the question of Jersey’s identity and enable the Island to emulate other British nations such as Scotland and Wales.
‘Visitors to those places are confronted at every turn with proud expressions of who they are,’ she said.
‘The “why now?” question couldn’t be more relevant and urgent as we, as an Island, face the challenges of Brexit and big global issues like climate change, pandemic recovery and huge technological advances changing the ways we work.
‘The time is right to position ourselves as a global citizen with much to offer.’
The Covid-19 pandemic and associated restrictions had created a ‘paradigm shift’ in society’, Deputy Labey added, providing time for reflection to better appreciate the importance of family, wellbeing, the Island community and environment. How Jersey was seen by others was also important, she explained.
‘Internationally, our long-term future relies on projecting a positive image of the Island; a richer international personality than just that of our world-class finance industry. Our unique history and constitutional status, and our extraordinary endeavours in other fields, should also be recognised and promoted as part of this personality.’