Jacqueline Creft was one of the early leaders of the New Jewel Movement. She was a secondary school teacher and, like George Louison, was one of those who believed in mass education, mass participation, and mass mobilization.
After receiving a B.A. degree in political science from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, she returned to Grenada in late 1971. In January 1973 at La Sagesse in St. David's, she stood with Maurice Bishop and Unison Whiteman in front of the large gathering protesting the locked gates to the beach at Lord Bronlow's estate.
While in Trinidad & Tobago from 1976-1977, she was regional coordinator for youth affairs, with the Christian Action of Development in the Eastern Caribbean (CADEC), an arm of the Caribbean Council of Churches (CCC). Eventually the Eric Williams government in Trinidad banned her in 1977 [and journalist Rickey Singh in 1978 while writing for Caribbean Contact]. She returned to Grenada in 1977 after her Trinidad work permit was revoked. She tried the Grenadian government under Gairy's regime and according to the Free West Indian:
With her additional responsibilities, she sought an employment position in Barbados with Women in Development. Creft was back in Grenada during the takeover 13 March 1979.
'Gairy refused to give me work, and as I was a new mother, I had another life to think about,' she said.
By January 1980, Jacqueline Creft was serving as Minister of Education in the People's Revolutionary Government. She coordinated the Voluntary School Repair program. As Minister of Education in 1981, she was in charge of Cuban scholarships.
Speeches by the People's Revolutionary Government at the First International Conference in Solidarity with Grenada, November 1981, included "The Building of Mass Education in Free Grenada" by Cde. Jacqueline Creft, Minister of Education, 4 November 1981. Her speech recounted in part:
"Comrades, ever since our party was founded in March 1973, high upon our list of priorities has been the transformation of this twisted education system that we inherited from colonialism and from Gairy.
We were determined to change a system which so powerfully excluded the interests of the mass of our people, and which also wove webs of fear, alienation and irrelevance around our children's minds . . . whether it was Little Miss Muffet, the Cow That Jumped Over the Moon, William the Conqueror, Wordsworth's Daffodils, or the so-called "Discoveries" By Christopher Columbus of the "New World.
The lucky few of us who went to secondary school, learned about Cromwell's Revolt but not about that of Fedon. We learned about the reforms of Wilberforce yet nothing of Marryshow. They made us read Shakespeare and Jane Austen, but kept silence about George Lamming.
Right from the beginning of our struggle we called for an education system which not only services all our people, secondary schools which would freely open the doors to all our people without the constraint of fees, but also a curriculum which would eliminate absurdity from our classrooms and focus our children's minds upon their own island, their own wealth, soil and crops, their own solution to the problems that surround them. For too long we had been brainwashed to think that only Europe and America held the answer."
Creft helped establish and led the Ministry of Women's Affairs in June of 1982 with its inauguration in August. The Secretary (Junior Minister) at that ministry was Phyllis Coard.
Creft quit the party activities [the New Jewel Movement] in November 1982 after having been active within it since its early days. In March of 1983, Creft was demoted within the government from Candidate to Applicant member "although the reasons are unclear," according to Pryor.
In the tense days of early October 1983, Creft met privately with Bishop and was one of the few who visited with him. When Bishop was placed under house arrest on 12 October 1983 in his Mt. Wheldale home, Jackie came to visit the very next day. She was told by security if she saw him, she would also be detained. She agreed.
GBSS student Thomas Cadore led a group, around noon on 19 October 1983, around left to the back of Bishop's Mt. Wheldale home to free Bishop and Creft. Bishop and Creft were taken to Fort Rupert with others, switching vehicles.
On the way down Lucas Street, the procession passed by the home of Jackie's mother, Lynne. Mrs. A.J. Creft and her daughter kissed and exchanged words, but never saw each other again, according to one report. While the procession moved on Lynne Creft was gathering food, which she was able to bring to the Fort before the shooting began.
Around 2 p.m., Bishop, Creft and seven others were executed at Fort Rupert. Jacqueline Creft, from reports, was supposedly pregnant with Maurice Bishop's child when executed that tragic day 19 October 1983. The information about Jackie's pregnancy has, so far, been hearsay.
Maurice Bishop and Jacqueline Creft were parents of a child in the 1970s. The paternity of Bishop and Creft's son, Vladimir, was legally established in April 1978. Vladimir, born 4 December 1977, died a violent death in Canada in 1994 when he and other teens were subjected to a knife attack at a Caribbean nightclub. At Wilberforce Cemetery a bust of Maurice Bishop stands near a tombstone for Vladimir whose death date reads 1995 [one year off].
©2002, photos by Ann Wilder
Details of this tragedy feel incapable of being borne, even years later.