Declared by the United Nations, World Indigenous Day is celebrated on August 9 annually. This year in Dominica, in recognition of World Indigenous Day a partnership was forged between the Ministry of Kalinago Affairs, the government of Dominica and the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus whereby there was a call for papers; it was dubbed the Dominica Country Conference.
This according to Paul Baron, Chairman of the Atkinson/Antrizle Village Council who spoke to Dominica Vibes on Friday August 11 2017 on the outcome of this two day Dominica Country Conference which came to a close Thursday August 10 2017.
“The conference was over a two day period whereby academics, activists, enthusiasts as it relates to the protection of indigenous people’s rights came together in one setting at the Kalinago Barana Aute and present on a number of issues in relation to indigenous people,” he said.
Presentations focused on the socioeconomic status; the questions of the archeology, reclaiming, revitalizing or regaining the language; the historical aspect of the Kalinago/indigenous people and some of the injustice that was done many centuries ago but still impacts the people in some way.
Baron who has the privilege of presenting one of these papers himself spoke on the topic The Twenty-first century Kalinago.
“What I sought to do is to understand what has happened historically should not determine our future or our fate and we must seek to sort of harness the opportunities that are available for us in the twenty-first century and as such use that in a positive way to try and form our society,” he explained.
He added that while there are challenges and social ills plague the Kalinago people, it cannot be allowed to determine the outcome or the unsuccessfulness of the indigenous people.
Baron singled out Cozier Frederick, Development Officer in the Ministry of Kalinago Affairs, whom he said was instrumental in the Country Conference’s organization and success along with Officer in Charge of the UWI Open Campus Kimone Joseph.
“I must commend them for that, it was nicely put together, all logistics were put together and came into play,” he said.
Meanwhile Baron revealed that from the conference the resurrection of the Kalinago language once thought extinct will soon happen.
“One of the persons, who presented a paper Miss Joseph, out of New York but is of Kalinago parentage, is going to begin to put things in motion to start teaching the Kalinago Language,” he beamed.
Baron said the fact that there is someone up to their doctorate level in trying to “reclaim or sort of regain and teach the language is a real big step forward for us as an indigenous people”.