One of Trinidad and Tobago’s finest creative spirits.

This is how friends and family described local artist, painter and author Valerie Belgrave during her funeral service held at the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union Hall, Henry Street, Port of Spain yesterday.

Belgrave died on Tuesday after ailing for some time.

She is known as the author of Ti Marie and two other novels, as well as the children’s book Children of the Steelpan and the autobiographical Art for the People.

She was also praised for her artwork, paintings and batik designs.

Belgrave was also a social activist and was among hundreds of students who staged a sit-in at the computer lab on the ninth floor of the Sir George Williams University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in 1969 to protest against a professor who was accused of racism.

The incident is now the subject of a documentary called The Ninth Floor, which will be part of next month’s trinidad + tobago film festival.

Clips of the documentary were shown during the service yesterday.

Speaking during the service, former OWTU general secretary David Abdulah said that incident helped spark the 1970 black power revolution in this country.

Abdulah, who attended the University of the West Indies and served on the student guild with Belgrave after her return to Trinidad, shared memories of her university life.

Belgrave’s close friend Kathleen Stroud also shared memories of their time together and said Belgrave lived life to the fullest.

Belgrave’s son Chenier Belgrave shared memories of his mother, saying she raised him to be responsible and logical. He said plans will be made to show her work.

Yesterday’s service featured a performance by the birdsong Steel Orchestra and poetry by local playwright/poet Pearl Eintou Springer.


© Luis Oberto