McLean makes stand on island names

| 03/09/2008

(CNS): The former Health Minister and Bodden Town representative Gilbert McLean (left) will, CNS has learned, be running for office again in the forthcoming General Elections. And while the would-be Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) has not set out his official campaign stall yet, a call to Radio Cayman’s Talk Today show yesterday hinted that the identity of the Sister Islands and the use of that generic term to describe Little Cayman and Cayman Brac may be one of his political battlegrounds.

Once an independent MLA for the two islands for two terms before he represented the people of Bodden Town with the United Democratic Party (UDP), McLean was also responsible for bringing the bill to the Legislative Assembly which changed the name and official identity of the Sister Islands from its historic name, the Lesser Islands (which referred, according to historical accounts, to the geographical size), to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

Speaking on the lunchtime radio show on Tuesday, 2 September, McLean said he was proud to have made that change but was very disappointed that this term in common use, the "Sister Islands", was something he did not approve of.

“I think it is belittling, condescending and ignorant to use this term to describe Little Cayman and Cayman Brac,” said McLean. “The islands should not be covered by some blanket condescending term. These islands are separate places; they are Cayman Brac and Little Cayman and we should all have enough respect to use the correct names and identify each of the three islands.”

He said he had no idea where the term came from or how it began to be used in common parlance and he did not know where this imaginary place the so-called Sister Islands was and he wondered if this meant that those living on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman should refer to Grand Cayman as the brother island.

“We should seize the opportunity to promote the correct names to the world in a sensible manner and for us to show respect to their separate identities,” said the former minister. 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is just an example of why very little happened in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman (or Sister Islands if you like ) during his time as MLA. His plan of action seemed was to be against almost anything that the other MLA at that was for. It seems like deja vu to hear one of the MLAs oppose everything even including daily jet service to the Sister Islands.  This goes back to the same root cause of lacking leadership and vision.                                                                                                                                                               The other writter is correct there are so many more important things to be concerned about.  However these issues require MLAs with leadership and  vision. One only has to observe the changes in the Sister Islands (or Cayman Brac and Little Cayman) in the last 3 years to understand what it means to have a MLA with true ability and not just a large family.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mr. McLean,

    Surely, there are far more important matters to be so passionate about in the Cayman Islands than using the term "Sister Islands" when describing Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Poverty, racism, HIV/AIDS, education, domestic abuse, sexual abuse, unsolved murders, and speed-related accidents are just a few I can think of off the top of my head. Why don’t you speak so passionately about one of these topics and REALLY follow through on your word?

    Why do our people often find themselves making mountains out of molehills? I’ve never in my working years in the tourism industry heard a resident of our "sister islands" comment that they feel belittled about being referred to as such.

    Further more, the only ignorance I see is when you made the statement "those living on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman should refer to Grand Cayman as the brother island". I would expect that sort of comment from a child, not an MLA.