BELIZE CITY, Wed. Jan. 20, 2021– On Wednesday the country of Belize held its first state funeral since the passing of Rt. Hon. George Cadle Price, to lay to rest with honor and recognition the country’s first Governor General, Dr. Dame Minita Gordon. The arrival of Dame Minita Gordon’s body at the Philip Goldson International Airport on Monday had marked the beginning of national mourning leading up to her burial.
Dame Minita Gordon’s casket, which was cloaked in the Belizean flag, was received by the current Governor General, Sir Colville Young, as well as the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, and her body lay in state on Tuesday at the Belize House of Culture, where a brief virtual ceremony was broadcast. The ceremony featured appearances and remarks by several Government officials, including Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Valerie Woods; Minister of Human Development and Indigenous Affairs, Hon. Dolores Balderamos Garcia; and area representative of the Albert division, Hon. Tracy Panton, as well as President of the Senate, Senator Carolyn Trench-Sandiford; Senator Elena Smith and Senator Sheena Pitts. Relatives of Dr. Minita, as well as members of the Belize Scout Association, were also present for the officiation of the ceremony before her body was transferred to Coye’s Funeral Parlor.
On Wednesday, residents of the community lined the sidewalks in the downtown area of the city as the Belize Defence Force led the procession that carried Dr. Minita’s casket down Albert Street to the St. John’s Anglican Cathedral. Various government officials and family members of the former Governor General spoke in church that morning, highlighting the life and legacy of the recently passed Belizean icon.
After the conclusion of the service, during an interview with News5, Prime Minister John Briceño made the following remarks:
“I think that Dame Minita Gordon is what we call a trailblazer, especially for women, but also for everyone. She came from humble beginnings, but through hard work, discipline and education, she managed to rise to the highest office in the land when she was appointed as the first Governor General of Belize. And she was not only the first Governor General of Belize, but the first female Governor General in the entire Commonwealth…but more than that, she was an educator, she loved children, she was an artist. She was almost like a renaissance woman, that she did a little of everything and whatever she did, she did well. We, as a nation, are grateful for the work that she did for us as a country, that she stepped up to the plate at a very important time in 1981, when we were just declared an independent nation.”
During the interview, PM Briceño said that the Government of Belize should hang its head in shame for not providing a retirement package for the late Dr. Dame Minita Gordon. He says that they must make amends to ensure that this never occurs again in the future.
“I think that was a dark period in her life and also for us as Belizeans. That we did not take care of the people that have stood up for us, especially in times of need, and that have created this modern country that we call Belize, that we love so much. So yes, it is something that we should all be shamed about what happened, that once she was changed, that there was no retirement or no pension for her and so, that is a blight on all of us.” Prime Minister Briceño said.
Kelora Fanklin, who is the sister of Dr. Gordon, acted as the Chief Mourner during this week’s formalities and gave a heartfelt eulogy, further illuminating the life of her sister:
“In recognition of her impressive achievements, Dame Minita is included in publications such as the Who’s Who in the Commonwealth, Who’s Who in Intellectuals, Who’s Who of Professional and Business Women, Who’s Who in Latin America, the International Yearbook and Statesman’s Who is Who and Marquee’s Who is Who. With her very busy schedule, Dame Minita set aside time for recreation and to pursue her hobbies. Her hobbies included craft, knitting, crocheting, making macramé handbags and making soft toys for children. She learned to play the recorder while she studied in Canada and played alto recorder in the recorder band. She also enjoyed travel and interacting with people of different cultures. Dame Minita was a loving, thoughtful, caring, and considerate person. She was always ready to help those in need. She hosted annual Christmas parties for underprivileged children.”
Dr. Gordon’s body was laid to rest at the Lord Ridge Cemetery.