Formal Reflections in memory of Mavis Brooks-Salmon

jan 18, 2020

Leonaris, Earlon, Najhilah, Church, Good morning,

We are here to today to remember and pay homage to a multifaceted, distinguished and strong woman, Mavis Brooks-Salmon. I am, as Governor, Chair of the Council of Advice and personally, most pleased to deliver formal reflections in appreciation of the life and legacy, of Mavis Brooks-Salmon, the Vice Chair of the Council of Advice of Sint Maarten.

Preparing for these reflections it struck me that my first and last memory of Mavis is a memory of a strong woman handling and carrying her fight with cancer with grace and dignity. An attitude to life which she attributes to her faith in God.

My first and last will however not be my lasting memory. My lasting memory of Mavis, build up over the past 9 plus years is of a wise, hardworking woman of substance with a sharp intellect and a yearning for learning and sharing, a woman with a big heart, a woman of courage, a woman with a strong personality who knew what she wanted. She was passionate about her family, her friends, her work, and about politics. And she believed that her service could help contribute to a better Sint Maarten.  And that she did.

During the past 9 plus years I have had the privilege to meet with Mavis Brooks-Salmon on the last Thursday of each month. During the past days, I have heard several persons describe her as strict and as a disciplinarian. What I wish to add is that she was highly disciplined and punctual. She not only disciplined others, she also held herself to that standard.

Few things interfered with our scheduled monthly meeting. In fact throughout her treatment we stayed in contact and spoke over the phone. And when she returned from the Netherlands, she called for our meeting. It would be our final formal meeting. On that December 5, 2019, I could only admire her courage, grace, strength and willpower. Because of these formal meetings I can claim the pleasure of knowing Mavis Brooks-Salmon.

As I got to know Mavis, I would, at times, witness the caring mother in her as she doted about her children. At other times I would see the daughter or sister in her as she reminisced about her childhood growing up in Curacao. On other occasions I would see the devoted wife as she spoke about her husband. And in her references to her friends I saw a loyal friend.

Mavis Brooks-Salmon was a teacher, a jurist, a politician, a Knight in the Order of Oranje Nassau, a deputy minister plenipotentiary of the Netherlands Antilles and the Vice Chair of the Council of Advice of Sint Maarten. Having said that I know that that summary does not do justice to the many capabilities of Mavis Brooks-Salman, the Champion for Sint Maarten.

As a teacher she has impacted the life of generations of Sint Maarteners and through her career she serves as an inspiration for many. This is evident from the statements made by many persons over the past few days. It is a legacy which I know gives her great pleasure.

While her career moved from teaching to Vice Chair of the Council of Advice it was obvious from our conversations that she never lost her passion for teaching and mentoring others. This tells a lot about Mavis Brooks-Salmon the person, who did not become arrogant because of her achievements but instead stayed true to her convictions that our service can help create a better life for others.

As a jurist it was her desire to serve on the Council of Advice to help shape the laws that govern our country Sint Maarten. And she would do just that. As the first Vice Chair, or in fact Chair and Leader of the Council of Advice she applied her teaching skills and left no stone unturned, as she worked with her colleagues and mentored members of the secretariat to form and develop the Council of Advice from the ground up.
Mavis Brooks-Salmon led the Council through its formative years and established it as a respected, independent and objective adviser to Government and Parliament.  In doing so she leaves behind a well-functioning High Council of State which is essential to the proper functioning of our democratic state. She in that regard leaves behind big shoes to fill, both literally and figuratively. I shall surely miss our many thought provoking discussions and exchange of ideas on matters of importance to the development of our country. Matters such as religion, education, legislation and health care. 

Through her passing the Council of Advice has lost its mother, its leader, its champion.
With her passing Sint Maarten has suffered a great loss.

To her husband Leonaris, to her son Earlon, to her daughter Najhilah, to her sisters and brothers and to the rest of her family, I hereby on behalf of the Council of Advice, my wife Marie Louise and myself extend heartfelt sympathy for your loss.

May you find the strength to move forward with the confidence in knowing that hers was a life well-lived, one which made a difference in the lives of many and in the development of our country, Sint Maarten.