Vincentians poured onto the streets of Kingstown in response to four nurses who felt that the untimely death of their beloved colleague, Staff Nurse Arianna Duharte Taylor-Israel, ought not to be in vain.
Nashida White, Alicia Murray, Kendra Horne and Rolicia Spence-Cumberbatch all banded together to produce the candlelight march and vigil event in tribute to the life and very trying times of Staff Nurse Taylor, as she was more “affectionately known.”
Taylor-Isreal lost her life on January 30 when she was shot “about her body [approximately] 3:45 pm” by her husband Mitchell Israel. The marriage, it is said, was turbulent at best. The police was, reportedly, about to serve an arrest warrant on the accused murderer hours before he “with malice and aforethought, caused the death” of his 44 year old wife. She was shot while waiting for her elder son at his school’s parking lot. Mitchell Israel has since been remanded to prison until May 18th when the next step in the murder trial would begin.
“Justice for SN Taylor” was emblazoned behind some of the orange tshirts that populated the march and subsequent vigil. “We saw the requests for tshirts but wow,” Kendra Horne said in response to the unanticipated high turnout last Thursday evening. “We don’t want this crime to go silent,” she said of the efforts to call attention to the atrocities inflicted by such a gruesome loss of SN Taylor.
“Due to how she died, I personally thought it was fitting and in light of the recent increase in domestic abuse cases. It is time we do more than just talk,” co-producer Nashida White shared with ANN. “Justice is a favourable sentence, a good amount of time behind bars. We don’t want this one going under the rug,” she continued.
“What we would have noticed, in previous and recent times, is that a lot of women are being abused and persons are afraid to even speak out,” Spence-Cumberbatch said. The march and vigil was her brainchild. And with the support of her co-workers – friends really, people from all strata of the Vincentian tapestry were given (what could possibly be) the only chance to pay homage to the “beautiful soul” whose healing hands and ever present smile cured many.
“Staff Nurse Taylor was … an amazing nurse. Despite whatever she was going through she was still a light to her patients. She was an advocate for her patients… she was a light to this world. So while I was at home I thought ‘she was such a light why not host a candlelight vigil that would depict the kind of person she was?’ Then we started planning. We knew we wanted to do it one week after the incident happened, we wanted to start the march at the area where the incident occurred and we wanted to be close to the hospital where she worked and also where she would have died,” Spence-Cumberbatch explained.
The committee explored the hospital parking lot as an unlikely option to host the congregation of mourning protesters. That idea was quickly jettisoned in favour of the Finishing & Furnishing parking lot. Nurse Murray told us “We took it up on ourselves and decided against holding the vigil at the hospital car park. So we went and we asked the management of Finishing & Furnishing (O.T. car park) if we could host it there and were like ‘o.k.’ they had no problems with it… so it’s not a matter of if she worked there or where she worked or what. It’s just thinking in the case of emergency traffic.” She highlighted this as one concern being bandied about by facebookers.
“We chose to come close to the hospital so that workers [at work] could feel a part of; so that was one of the purpose – to be at least, if not at the hospital car park, to be close to the hospital so that workers who were working would have been able to partake in the vigil,” Spence-Cumberbatch added.
Although forewarned that the marchers should only occupy one traffic lane, there was little the quartet of Milton Cato Memorial based nurses could have done to coral attendees.
At the vigil Eunice Sanchez paid spoken word tribute en espanol but as Health Ministry’s communication officer Neeka Anderson-Issacs intimated: love in any language, especially, love that comes straight from the heart needed no translation. The audience joined audibly in her affirmation “I am better. I will do better. I will be better.” A premise said to be a central tenet of Taylor-Israel’s life.
Dr. Jozelle Miller, in her exhortations, sought to impress upon the gathered a few of “the many lessons imbedded in this experience.” To this end she urged “shed light on the truth. Too often we suffer in silence, out of the fear of judgement and ridicule.” The need to ‘show more empathy and compassion” was the second lesson that the health psychologist highlighted. “We are our sisters’ and our brothers’ keeper. Too often we use the cliché statement without substance and meaning that says ‘I have your back’ but how often the ball falls when it is truly needed.” Dr Miller further encouraged that persons “understand the power that exists within each of us. Let our voices be heard against injustice. One woman’s cry or tears are shared by all women.”
The vigil was also addressed by Health Minister and Parliamentary Secretary Luke Brown and Debbie Charles. The Cantemus Choir of which SN Taylor was a very vocal member performed several numbers.
“We were marching for our friend and former colleague. We were marching for all the women who live in fear. We were marching to show we can no longer continue the cycle of abuse of our women,” Nurse Spence-Cumberbatch told ANN a few hours after the vigil.
And their marching days have just begun as they move to put life to Minister Brown’s refrain and “show that [SN Taylor] did not die in vain.” As such the four nurses are gearing up to hit the streets with their stand up speak out movement. On March 14th they would join Code Orange at the Peace Memorial Hall from 4 p.m. Then plans are afoot to join the Public Service Union Women’s Committee, en masse, for their anti domestic abuse campaign next month.
In the meantime the producers extend heartfelt gratitude to contributors such as “Jax Enterprises, Lady J, Elliot Samuel, Sister Agatha Stay, 784ink for accomadating and going overtime for us, musicians Mrs Laidlow and Aniel, Dr. Thomas who opened the evenings proceedings with prayer, Nurses Association, Nursing Administration, Finishing & Furnishing, St. Vincent Grammar School and St. Martin’s Secondary.”
The Everready Funeral Home’s Dynamic Drummers, Neeka Anderson-Issacs for her services as Mistress of Ceremony and the Royal SVG Police Force for their cooperation and support all came in for accolades from the foursome of producers.