Prime Minister Philip Davis’s Remarks at the Graduation of the National Youth Guard Cohort 2

Ladies and gentlemen, 

I have really been looking forward to this afternoon, an opportunity to come together to honor the newest graduates of our National Youth Guard.

Congratulations to you all – and thank you!

Thank you for stepping up to serve our country.

As I look out at the happy and proud faces of the family members and friends who are here to celebrate you, I know I’m not alone in feeling grateful and inspired by what you’ve accomplished.

You have grown stronger during your training – and because of you, The Bahamas will be stronger, too.

As you well know, hurricane season begins in less than a month.

Climate experts are predicting that record-breaking sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean could lead to an extremely active hurricane season.

We’ve worked hard in our administration — to build coalitions with other small island nations, to urge the world’s largest polluters to reduce the carbon emissions which are warming our oceans and making hurricanes stronger.

But even in the best-case scenarios – even if all countries keep all the promises they’ve made to reduce emissions – that progress will take time to make a difference. The emissions that accumulated in earth’s atmosphere during the years the world’s wealthiest nations were industrializing mean that some warming is built in, inevitable.

That is the sobering reality we face.

Indeed, in under one decade, we experienced four Category 4 and Category 5 storms, each of which caused terrible loss and devastation, and together cost us billions of dollars.

I don’t think any of us here have forgotten what it was like in the days during and after Hurricane Dorian.

As one nation, we mourned the destruction, the tragedies, and the heartbreak.

Yet even during our darkest hours, there were rays of light.

We saw Bahamians from across our country mobilize to help in any way they could. Some used their own boats to rescue those stranded on rooftops. Some came together to organize food, water, and medical supplies. Thousands of Bahamians shared their homes with those who had lost theirs.

The National Youth Guard was created to honour and elevate that spirit – to channel and coordinate the courage and generosity of our people, and to strengthen our nation’s ability to respond during times of crisis.

The successful completion of your training means you have gained important skills for your own careers, while training to serve on the front lines during this new climate era.

I am grateful to Minister Mario Bowleg and his team, who devoted many long hours to launching the National Youth Guard, and grateful to Minister Wayne Munroe, who skillfully helped the programme transition to the Ministry of National Security, so that the deployment of our National Youth Guard can be coordinated with our security forces during national emergencies. The Delivery Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister has worked with great care and dedication to support the Youth Guard from the programme’s inception.

Under the expert leadership of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF), and notably, under the stewardship of our first female RBDF Captain, Sonia Miller, the National Youth Guard programme is producing cadets of the highest caliber. 

Today, we celebrate the shining stars of Cohort 2, who hail from islands across our country – from Abaco, Andros, Eleuthera, and Cat Island, as well as from New Providence and Grand Bahama.

We hope to welcome Bahamians from all our Family Islands in upcoming cohorts.

I am counting on all of you who are here today to be ambassadors for the National Youth Guard! I’m not just talking to the cadets, you know. I see some aunties and uncles here who I know can be persuasive!

Help us spread the word in your communities – let young Bahamians know that the National Youth Guard offers an opportunity to serve while they gain important expertise and job-ready skills.

Indeed, eighty-five percent of cadets from our first cohort found gainful employment with the skills and certifications gained through the programme – while the others are pursuing tertiary education at institutions such as BTVI, BAMSI, and UB and navigating their career journeys.

I know that those of you graduating today are going to make your families and your fellow citizens proud.

The technical and leadership skills you have gained will serve you well, whether you choose to continue your studies, develop opportunities as entrepreneurs, or serve in our security forces.

To tell you the truth, I’m already looking forward to boasting about your achievements to the next cohort! 

I am so proud of each and every one of you. 

I believe that we have no greater resource than the talents, energy, determination, and strength of our young people.

You answered the call to serve, helping us turn hardship and challenge into shared national purpose, deepening our capacity and commitment to take care of one another.

May God Bless You All, and May God Bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.