Weeks: Minister of Community Development

June 2, 2011

Premier Paula Cox held a press conference today [June 2] announcing Minister Michael Weeks will be appointed Minister of Community Development, a portfolio which previously came under Minister Glenn Blakeney’s responsibilities.

The Ministry of Community Development will also house the Bermuda National Library and the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs. Ms Marva Jean O’Brien has been appointed the Permanent Secretary of Community Development.

Those present at the announcement included Minister Zane DeSilva, Minister Glenn Blakeney, Minister Neletha Butterfield, Minister Wayne Perinchief and Rolfe Commissiong.

Michael Weeks Paula Cox Bermuda June 2 2011_wm

Minister Michael Weeks was sworn in at Government House, in November 2010, originally taking on the position of Minister Without Portfolio, which was previously held by Minister Zane DeSilva. Mr Weeks represents Constituency #16 – Pembroke East Central. A “hands on” MP, Mr Weeks is seen quite often in the district he represents, walking the streets talking with his constituents.

He was educated at Central School, The Berkeley Institute, Fryeburg Academy in Maine, and is a 1999 graduate of Howard University where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. Since receiving his college degree, Mr. Weeks has been employed in the private sector. He is currently the Vice President of the Western Stars Sports Club in Pembroke and is a member of the Berkeley Educational Society Management Committee.

Minister Week’s full statement is below:

Good afternoon:

Arthur C. Clark, the British science-fiction author and inventor once said,

“The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them in to the impossible”

As I stand here this afternoon, I am truly humbled at being given the opportunity, the challenge really, to assist in moving Bermuda forward. I would like to paraphrase Professor Clark’s words and say that the only way we can discover our true potential is by forging ahead in to unknown territory.

That is why I am honoured to be named at this time in Bermuda’s history as Minister of Community Development. While the name of the Ministry may sound familiar to some, let me assure you that the core mandate is anything but.
Allow me to give you my definition of what Community Development is. Community Development is about developing the power, skills, knowledge and experience of people as individuals and in groups. As a result, they are empowered and enabled to undertake initiatives of their own to identify and address social, economic, political and environmental problems. It is only in so doing, that they can fully participate in a truly democratic process.
The Ministry of Community Development has as its stakeholders Bermudians of all ages. Our emphasis is on development- of all Bermudians, individually and collectively.

Let me say this. Community Development cannot be accomplished from behind a desk. Those who know me already and who know my style will recognize that although I appreciate theory, I am much more interested in action. I am interested in finding resolutions to issues. If Bermudians are to be empowered, then as Minister I have the responsibility to make sure that they become empowered, and that may mean that I have to knock on a few more doors than normal.

One of the initiatives for which I will be responsible is the revitalization of the National Youth Council. For those who may not know, this is a vehicle that allows for the voices of our youth to be truly heard while at the same time they participate in the democratic process. Recently, I met with some of the representatives on the National Youth Council and I was literally blown away by the high level of passion which they already show. There is no doubt that they will be a force to be reckoned with, and we will work closely with them to ensure that they receive the guidance and direction needed to become Bermuda’s future leaders.

The work that I have already done following through on the recommendations emanating out of Professor Ronald Mincy’s Report on Young Black Males will be shifted to the Ministry of Community Development to ensure continuity. You will recall that the Report was presented to Bermuda in May 2010 and that it was actually debated in the Legislature. One of our principle emphases will be on how to provide for under-served out-of-school youth and young adults an opportunity to acquire the necessary technical and vocational training in order for them to embark on the type of career pathways that will not only benefit them but also their families and ultimately our community.

Fulfilling these particular recommendations will provide a second chance for many of our young men and women, who for one reason or another did not get the requisite skills necessary to find success in our complex economy. We cannot go back in time, but this Government, with a eye firmly on the future, is determined to create a 21st Century institution of learning, that will provide the types of technical and vocational training to meet the career needs of our underserved youth.
The Ministry of Community Development will also house the Bermuda National Library and the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Why, you may ask? What does this have to do with Community Development? Development has both a forward looking component as well as a component which looks back at the bricks on which we build our future.
Our libraries are the repositories of our cultural legacy. We will work with our libraries, under the leadership of Ms. Joanne Brangman, to ensure that Bermudians have access to the materials we need to preserve, identify and build our national culture, to cultivate a national character with which we can all identify- to build our national pride.

The work of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, under the leadership of Mrs. Heather Whalen, is priceless. I look forward to working with Mrs. Whalen and her team to ensure that our opportunities to learn about and to experience our proud past remain.

Similarly, Parish Councils are thought of as keepers of Bermuda’s parochial history and culture. As Minister, I intend to review the vestry system and to reassess parish councils to see how they can suit the needs of our parish communities in a way that is both progressive and dynamic.
Bermudians have long been contributors to and have benefitted from local charities. Over time, the number of Charities on our register has increased tenfold. We will work side by side with our Charities to ensure that their work is aligned with the needs of the community and as needed, we will assess what they are doing for our community development and to see if there are ways in which we can do even better.
At this juncture I would like to acknowledge the new Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Community Development, Ms. Marva-Jean O’Brien. As many of you know, Ms. O’Brien formerly served as Assistant Cabinet Secretary for Policy, She is a spirited young lady, and I look forward to developing the partnership that we already enjoy.

Our challenge within the Ministry of Community Development will be to respect and preserve Bermuda’s culture, while at the same time retooling structures so that they reflect 21st Century practices. I believe that with deliberate and focused thought, a balance can and will be achieved.
I would like to see a Bermuda where its people are able to reach their full potential. In doing so, as we venture into uncharted waters, we should embellish our creative spirit by putting our ideas into action so that they become a reality.

To that end, although we are confronted with major challenges- some which we have never faced before- it is my goal to collaborate with all of our Ministries to remove any obstacles that would stop each Bermudian from achieving his or her personal potential. By doing so, we have no choice but to wind up with a better Bermuda.

Thank you.

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  1. New Public Works Minister: Michael Weeks : Bernews.com | November 18, 2011
  1. SMH says:

    Great job Premier in this appointment. I am confident Minister Weeks is the perfect person for this job. Anyone that knows Mike knows that helping people is his passion. As one of the newest MPs whose constituency has been one of the hardest hit in terms of violence and gun play, he has made himself accessible at all times to his constituents. His connection to his constituency is firmly established and he should do well in this role.

  2. Congrats to Minister Weeks on his new appointment. He is a hardworking and sincere individual who has Bermuda’s best interest at heart. May God bless you and keep you.

  3. @SMH….Couldn’t have said it better!! Congratulations Mike!!

  4. B, a Lady says:

    This is a terrible message. Government says it is trying to save funds so they lay off the small man, but then create a new Ministry and an infrastructure to support it. The other two Ministers were doing fine. I am always disappointed in the largesse demonstrated by the PLP. They tell us to save, sacrifice and concede, yet they just keep on growing. So we had two Ministers doing jobs, now there are three. Does this mean that Mr. Commisiong joins this new Ministry? That is another post in itself.

    PLP, please call an election. I want to vote you out, as I’ve had enough of you.

    Please note that my post is not a commentary on Mr. Weeks but an opinion on government spending.

    • SMH says:

      B A Lady, Minister Weeks was already a Minister. I am sure there are no additional salaries being expended as a result of this appointment.

  5. 32n64w says:

    Does this mean yet another full-time ministerial salary?

    So much for doing more with less.

    • SMH says:

      32n, you are so negative…every comment, the same thing…you need to be a little happier! put a little pep in your step!

    • Wow says:

      No. He was already a Minister without portfolio. Now, he’s just going to have to work for his money. LOL!

    • Single says:

      Why don’t you people find out facts before posting..better still just read the article. Minister Weeks was Min. without portfolio, which means he was receivng a Minister’s salary.

      • B, a Lady says:

        Yes, but if you read my post, you will note that I said there must now be an infrastructure to support the Ministry. This means staff, facilities, phones etc etc. It is an additional expense in a time when we are all being asked to do more with less.

        I do not understand this island. Everyone screamed about Mr.Commisiong’s role being a waste of money, yet now everyone seems overjoyed that we have an entire Ministry (civil servants) largely dedicated to the same issue.

        Again, not a commentary on the formidable Mr. Weeks, but on the creation of a Ministry.

        • Cleancut says:

          To me it seems to be SMOKE AND MIRRORS, a big presentation to confuse the Public like; Single,Wow,SMH and the like.

      • Prophet says:

        And who now becomes the Minister with Nothing To Do? So while Mr. Weeks was already a Ministers and there is not an additional stress on the public purse to pay his salary, from where will the funds come to pay the new Minister who will replace Mr. Weeks? I’m just askin’.

  6. she's knot a lady says:

    What’s the issue here? The departments he’s responsible for already exist? What it is you oba_seeee don’t comprehend? No additional staff. It’s call reshuffling. Won’t cost you a dime!

    • Rockfish#1and #2 says:

      If you really think that this Ministry will not require additional staff, I respectfully submit you are incorrect.

      Weeks will not simply walk into an office and use the existing staff etc. Stay tuned please!!

      • LaVerne Furbert says:

        The Department of Community Affairs is already staffed. Ministries are made up of government department. This is not about the creation of another Government department.

        • Rockfish#2 says:

          In theory that is correct, but in practice, additional staff will be required for Weeks.
          Stay tuned.

  7. Mike says:

    Congrats to Minister Weeks and well done Madame Premier!

  8. Chris Backeberg says:

    This may be one of the most uplifting and sensible directions I have experienced with any Bermuda Government initiative! In my view this is where the potential for sustainability lives. Sustainable living systems, where value for and amongst all living beings is primary, can only ever come from the hearts and souls of the humans that make up the community. It cannot be legislated, it cannot be structured via some type of punishment-reward system and it most certainly cannot be bought or owned! Sustainability and viability need to be an extension of an individual’s and, subsequently, their collective community’s beliefs about the place we live in and the greater world we are part of; it needs to be (re)learned. I am not sure when and how value within and amongst people, places and things became so fractured. I do know that it has become this way amongst our people. Arriving at the “why?” conclusion(s) certainly holds value, but, to my mind, the “how do we create sustainability?” opportunity has equal or more value. I really appreciate the opportunity our Government has created here and wish Mr Weeks success in creating a public/private team of dedicated community guides, teachers, healers, advocates and leaders.

  9. Well done Premier Paula Cox and congratulations to Minister Weeks. Sometimes it is just best not to response to some comments, as those individuals have a strong opposition against the PLP! No matter what the party does good or bad they will never objectively review it !! The level of maturity to discuss issues with out getting personal and disrepectful has not arrived yet !!! Some of the comments reflect a lack of real understanding on the inner workings of a government system.

    • LOL (original) says:

      Wow your one to talk but all the same I know Mr. Weeks personally and I have to say we need more with his attitude which is positive.

      LOL

  10. truth be told says:

    Some of you guys are so unreal and borderline dumb. You have NO real care for Bermuda just hatred for the PLP and any one who holds a different opinion from you. You deliberately mislead people by making statements you know are untrue while making yourself appear to know what you are talking about.

    So lets put the facts to your false statements:

    B, a Lady….”Government says it is trying to save funds so they lay off the small man, but then create a new Ministry and an infrastructure to support it.”

    There have been NO lay offs or redundancies for Government workers from those who clan the public toilets all the way up to Senor civil servants, so that statement is scraped.

    B,a Lady also said: “This means staff, facilities, phones etc etc. It is an additional expense in a time when we are all being asked to do more with less.”

    To which Senator Furbert replied: ” The Department of Community Affairs is already staffed. Ministries are made up of government department. This is not about the creation of another Government department.”

    Senator Furbert scraped you statement with that.
    32n64w said: “Does this mean yet another full-time ministerial salary?

    So much for doing more with less.”

    To which Wow replied: ” No. He was already a Minister without portfolio. Now, he’s just going to have to work for his money. LOL!”

    Yes he was a Minister without portfolio receiving a Ministerial salary however he was not being paid for nothing. There are numerous responsibilities with in the Cabinet offices which do not directly fall under a Ministry of which Minister Weeks was responsible for ie the Mincy Report and the Youth Council some of which have transferred to the Ministry Of Community Affairs with him. Also when a Minister is off Island or on leave the Minister without Profodieo fills in for them serving as acting Minister for…

    So that scarps those statements.

    Rockfish #1and#2 Said “If you really think that this Ministry will not require additional staff, I respectfully submit you are incorrect.

    Weeks will not simply walk into an office and use the existing staff etc. Stay tuned please!!”

    If you read the Ministers statement you will see that he has already been working with some of the staff and if any additional staff is required it would be staff transferred from other departments which means they are already employed by Government which further reduces the risk of redundancies.

    Your statement scraped.

    I wish you all a good day

    Congratulations Minister Weeks on your new very important appointment I know you will do great.

    • B, a Lady says:

      Guess you did not see the lay offs at Port Royal?

  11. Well said Truth be-Told…. this is why I believe that there is just no will for some individuals to debate the issues in a fair and honest manner. There just seems to be an eager attempt to blame the PLP for everything, regardless of facts. Hopefully, the level of debate can raise to a higher standard !! As I am clearly aware that both political parties have made good and not so good decisions while holding political power !!

    • LOL (original) says:

      So where is your debate of a higher standard every time someone states anything the responce is you must be a PLP hater so either you want to debate on your terms or you only want to talk to other PLPers. Where the debate?

      LOL

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