Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Sustainable Development and Culture, Hon. Carlos James, has pledged the government’s commitment in the retrieval of elements of the Garifuna culture.
Minister James made this announcement while addressing the March 14th annual National Heroes’ Day Wreath Laying Ceremony in honour of this country’s first national hero, The Excellent Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer, under the theme “Appreciating Our Identity, Preserving Our Heritage with Pride.”
Minister James noted that, the government will commit significant resources towards on-going work to further develop the Chatoyer National Park and has budgeted expenditure towards the research and production of literature on the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“We have to do a lot more to support the retrieval, propagation and preservation of our history and culture. We must move more swiftly to streamline Garifuna material and other local history into our schools and we must applaud the teachers who have been finding creative ways in doing so over the years,” Minister James said.
According to the Cultural Minister, the department of culture and the Ministry of Education will continue to work closely with the Garifuna Heritage Foundation, so as to establish the framework for the formal introduction of the teaching of the Garifuna language in schools.
Noting that we have an obligation to share the history and culture of our Garifuna people, the minister called on historians and creatives, “as custodians of our cultural heritage, to broaden the scope of their creative space to reach a much more social and technologically adaptive audience.”
“We must facilitate the retrieval of elements of the Garifuna culture to its rightful home and strengthen our call for reparatory justice. Our people endured the most gruesome crimes against humanity through slavery and native genocide, our indigenous people were hunted and killed in cold bold, those who survived were exiled…. this is why our call for reparatory justice remains relevant,” Minister James said.
Ulrica Gaymes opened the ceremony with the singing of the national anthem in Garifuna. In addition, there were musical interludes by the Resistance Heart Beat Drummers and a dance performance by the Renaissance Dance Company.