Island identity

Island identity2024-04-24T21:00:43+00:00
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In partnership with the Bailiff’s Office, I have led a substantial project which seeks to enhance and promote our unique Jersey Identity, uniting our diverse communities and reshaping the narrative about Jersey on the world stage.

Our national Identity –  how we see ourselves and how others see us

Our identity matters a great deal. Over the past couple of years I have been privileged to lead a piece of work entitled ‘Island Identity’, which explores the many different elements which define Jersey. Together with a very capable and diverse Policy Development Board, who volunteered their time over the difficult lockdown period, we have initiated a programme of reports and events with three related objectives:

  • People in Jersey are civically engaged and proud of their Island;
  • Jersey has a recognisable and positive international personality; and,
  • Public policies coherently support and develop Jersey’s distinct identity.

In Jersey, our ability to work together, care for each other, grow our economy and look after our environment depends on us being bound to each other by more than a shared geography and set of rules. Whatever our backgrounds or occupations, we can benefit from a shared sense of belonging and a shared understanding of what it means to be Jersey.

Specific Goals

Over the course of its consultations the Policy Board identified seven more-specific goals which it felt would further the overarching objectives listed above and serve to nurture and celebrate our island identity. These begin to point to some more concrete outcomes while stull having applications across the breadth of public life and a range of policy areas:

  • Conserving what makes Jersey look and feel unique and expresses our distinctive character and heritage
  • Improving public awareness of our constitution and history, including understanding ourselves as a country, or small island nation.

  • Nurturing a stronger sense of citizenship and engagement in public life

  • Addressing alienation and social exclusion , and ensuring all islanders they belong in Jersey whatever their background

  • Expanding the international narrative about Jersey

  • Developing Jersey’s distinct international personality, separate from the UK but with strong connections to Britain, France, and other European countries and the Commonwealth

  • Celebrating and better promoting what we do well

Again, readers of this document are inviter to consider how these goals night be applicable to their areas of interest, how they might advance them in different ways, and how they might coordinate with those involved in other sectors.

Internationally, our long-term future relies on projecting a positive image of the Island; a richer international personality than just that of our world-class finance industry. Our unique history and constitutional status, and our extraordinary endeavours in other fields (culture, heritage, philanthropy, international development, sport, business, art, digital, agriculture, tourism and conservation, for example) should also be recognised as part of this personality. Coordinating and projecting these facets of our Island identity will help us build the reputation and relationships we will depend on to thrive in a globalised world.

I realise that questions of identity must be handled sensitively. We must take particular care that we are not defining some ideal of ‘Jerseyness’ which alienates people with different views and backgrounds. Instead, I believe that discovering and celebrating what people themselves love about Jersey and value about the Island can help provide common focal points for our growing and increasingly-diverse population.

Island Identity website and video

Chris Bright, member of the policy development board on Jersey’s international identity

Carolyn Labey has a deep understanding of what constitutes Jersey’s distinct and precious character as well as a clear desire to find new ways of harnessing it for the greater good, both at home and globally.

Interestingly, nations which have a strong sense of national identity, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, for example – are often among the best at integrating immigrant communities and giving them a sense of pride and belonging. Conversely nations with weakened identities are now struggling with legacies of social fragmentation.

And why is now the right moment to investigate these matters?

As we as an Island face the challenges of Brexit, and big global issues like climate change, pandemic recovery and huge technological advances changing the ways we work, the time is right to position ourselves as a global citizen with much to offer. We have great opportunities to diversify and innovate, as other British nations such as Scotland and Wales have done, with far fewer political and constitutional freedoms than we enjoy. However, visitors to those places are confronted at every turn with proud expressions of who they are, which is not something arrivals at our airport or harbour could say.

Furthermore, I also believe that during lockdown there has been a paradigm shift in our Society. It has given us time for reflection, to better appreciate the importance of family, our community, the environment, our wellbeing and all that we value.

Whether you grew up here, work here or have chosen to make Jersey your home, I hope you will enjoy reading more about the project, and consider getting involved!

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