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Nov 21, 2018

Miss Universe Belize Presented with National Gift

Today, the National Institute of Culture and History presented beauty queen Jenelli Fraser with the national gift to take to the Miss Universe pageant in Bangkok, Thailand.  The “national gift” is a culturally representative gift item that will be donated by each of the contestants participating in the Miss Universe Pageant.  The gifts will be auctioned off and the proceeds will be donated to a reputable charity in the host country of Thailand. Fraser was gifted with a handcrafted jewelry set from Kaj Expressions. According to NICH, they reviewed several suggestions for gift items and the jewelry set was selected because it represents a very valuable piece of Belize’s cultural heritage and it was light and easy to transport. The set includes a necklace and a pair of earrings made from the queen conch shell and accented with gold trimmings and lionfish tail. News Five attended the handing over this morning. Here’s how that went:


Neil Hall

Neil Hall, Communications & Marketing Officer, NICH

“Every delegate who attends a Miss Universe pageant takes a national gift. The national gift ranges, it has been in the past, anything from a guitar that is hand-signed to a basketball that is signed by Shaquille O’Neal. These national gifts are then auctioned off to people who are at the event. There are two different events in the past, one was a silent auction in which people came in and bid silently for most of the national gifts. However, about ten gifts per year are selected for a live auction. These are usually the more elegant and prestigious gifts and we are hoping that we will be included in that ten this year.  We are very well-known for our marine life, our teeming coral reef, second largest in the world. And the conch is something that helps with that marine life and also helps to keep the reefs clean. The aspect of the lionfish and its invasive nature into the Belizean waters, and the fact that we are taking that from that fish not only because of its destructive nature but we are also using it for its beauty. If you are looking at the piece, you will notice that it has circular ornaments that are made from actual shell from the queen conch, which in itself is extremely difficult to create. This is also complemented with the boney tail of the lionfish which is used mainly in the earrings and of course in the gold section on the side. And of course it is gold that encasing the lionfish portion.”


Jenelli Fraser

Jenelli Fraser, Miss Universe Belize

“It is a pleasure to receive a contribution from the Government and from NICH. Well, I think the importance of it is that it is actually gift from Belize, from our ecosystem. And it is something that whoever wins the auction can cherish and it can pass on from generation to generation.”


Fraser also received permits to export the jewelry set. Conch shell products face the possibility of being confiscated by Customs agencies because of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species regulation. The queen conch is a commercially threatened species and since the nineteen-nineties it has been regulated by CITES. The regulations include any part of the conch, including souvenirs and trinkets made out of its shell.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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