Friends and family came together at the funeral service of Carib Queen Valentina Medina yesterday to honour the woman whom many believed epitomised the values and traditions of indigenous people.
After four and a half years of a battle with breast cancer, Santa Rosa Carib Queen Valentina Medina died of the disease on April 23. She was 78.
Prior to the funeral service at the Santa Rosa Roman Catholic Church in Arima, friends of Medina donned colourful crocheted ponchos and beaded headbands and gathered at the Arima Town Hall to view Medina's body and sign a condolence book. A pink and white flag used in the Santa Rosa festival was draped over Medina's casket.
Medina spent much of her decade-long reign as Carib Queen fighting for greater recognition of indigenous people and petitioning the government of the day to give the Carib community more land to serve as a Carib reservation.
At Medina's funeral service at the Santa Rosa Roman Catholic Church in Arima yesterday, Chief of the Santa Rosa Carib Community Ricardo Bharath carried the mantle from where Medina left off and called for greater appreciation of Trinidad and Tobago's first indigenous inhabitants.
"I am willing to assist you in whatever way I can. I am willing to champion your cause," Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Winston Gypsy Peters answered in response to Bharath's calls but said the Carib community must approach government with their concerns as a unified body.
In her eulogy, People's National Movement senator Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, who was a friend of Medina, described her as an industrious and hardworking woman.
Medina's activism on behalf of indigenous people and her devotion to the Carib community endeared her to many as attested to by acting Prime Minister Winston Dookeran who along with Beckles-Robinson urged all to adopt Medina's leadership skills.
"She was committed to bringing the first people together. We should adopt the personality and ideals of Valentina Medina. Whoever else should become queen of the Carib community next would have a hard task ahead because she (Medina) was truly a great queen," added Mayor of Arima, Ghassan Youseph.
Medina's funeral procession was accompanied with parang music and later concluded with a smoke ceremony at the Santa Rosa Cemetery.