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Trinidad embraced me says Jamaican pageant winner

Published:Thursday | October 30, 2014 | 12:00 AM
The contestants in the Miss Divali Nagar 2014 cultural pageant.
Rachelle Biersay is Miss Divali Nagar Queen 2014.

Shereita Grizzle, Gleaner Writer

She made headlines across the region and occupied the front page of Trinidad and Tobago's daily newspapers last week when she was crowned Miss Divali Nagar Queen 2014. Her name is Rachelle Biersay, and she is the Jamaican who won the cultural pageant on Trinidad and Tobago soil. However, since her win, many have been taking to social media to voice their gross disagreement with her attaining the crown because of her nationality.

Many social-media users believed that Biersay was not deserving of the crown because she is not Trinidadian, and are of the view that the annual competition should be closed to 'outsiders', making it only possible for Trinidad nationals to participate. Despite seeing some of these comments, Biersay is not daunted and believes that her talent won her the competition. She also revealed that the decision surrounding her win has been embraced by the majority.

"During the preparation of the competition, the National Council of Indian Culture of Trinidad and Tobago was very professional, and true Caribbean hospitality was extended to me," she said. She then went on to say that contrary to popular belief, there was no 'bad blood' among the group of contestants, as they all exuded friendliness and charm. "I was embraced and well received as a Jamaican winning the crown, and this was evident in my radio interviews with Taj 92.3 in Trinidad along with the Trinidad Guardian newspaper and Daily Express newspaper, both of which had my photo published on their front page." She also explained that her win was welcomed by all, including the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who in one of her speeches acknowledged her being Jamaican and winning the prestigious crown.

Sister in competition

The 15-year-old student of Immaculate Conception High was among two Jamaicans in the competition, as her sister, Chantelle Biersay, was also competing for the crown. She told The Gleaner what she felt at the exact moment she was announced the winner. "I felt blessed, humbled and honoured in representing my country, Jamaica, and attaining that prestigious crown. Especially to have won in Trinidad and Tobago, where they have maintained a rich and vibrant East Indian culture, gave me a feeling of accomplishment."

Always the one quick to represent her country, Biersay told The Gleaner that winning the crown for her country meant as much as winning it for herself. "As a Jamaican, I did not only attain the crown for the welfare of myself, but for my country, Jamaica and the Indo-Jamaicans, as our motto distinctly embodies 'Out of Many One People'," she said. "For a young Jamaican to have won such a competition shows that Jamaicans aspire for greatness, and that we have a diverse culture that every citizen should embrace with open arms."

Biersay is a classical ballet dancer with the Royal Academy of Dance in London, England, and since 2011 has been awarded first place in dance by the Indian High Commission in Jamaica. She is also a four-time gold medallist in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's annual all-island dance competition. No stranger to pageants, Biersay is the reigning Miss Immaculate, and is currently pursuing CXC subjects in science, business and arts.

As part of her mandate as Miss Divali Nagar Queen 2014, Biersay will continue to embrace, promote and preserve the East Indian culture, while raising the cultural awareness level among the youths in her home country.