As Kalinago Week continues, members of the indigenous community are celebrating Kalinago Day today.
Chairman of the Atkinson/Antrizle Village Council, Paul Baron in an interview with Vibes News said these celebrations encompass much more than meets the eye.
Though his communities do not fall within the boundaries of the Kalinago Territory, the people of Atkinson and Antrizle are also of Kalinago decent.
“It can be closely associated with a people’s right and freedom to celebrate their existence. It is important to understand that being Kalinago is not necessarily a factor of identity but also a way of life; bearing in mind that we have existed as a people for centuries in the Caribbean region,” he said.
Currently the Kalinago population of the region is concentrated in Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Baron said this is due to “because of how we have sort of lived in tangent with environment and nature which has allowed for us to remain as people and continue to exist”.
Therefore it is important to underscore the way of life of the Kalinago people.
Baron continued, “Kalinago forms part of a larger debate as it relates to the rights of indigenous people and as is ratified by our government and also many other governments, bearing in mind that we are a minority group, living within a dominant culture, in this case the Afro-Dominica or the wider Dominican population”.
The Kalinago people he added have certain inalienable rights as outlined in the Rights of Indigenous People which has been ratified by the Government of Dominica. These include freedom through self-expression, right to education and also a right to lands and more.
“What we are trying to do as a minority group is to achieve that within the Dominica context bearing in mind that we do not these huge reserves as in North America and such resources.”
Baron said the Kalinago people have to “firstly co-exist with our brothers and sisters in Dominica and allow for them to also respect us as a people and individuals”.
Therefore in celebrating Kalinago week and Kalinago Day awareness of the Kalinago culture is brought to light.
“The week creates awareness, we have activities, we come together as a community and celebrate our existence.”
Today’s activity will focus on the performing arts within the Kalinago culture with what he described as a drumming festival.
“Drumming is essential to our culture in terms of the dance and the vibe that comes out of making music at the Sense resource Center, the heart of the Kalinago Territory.”
Community leaders and the Minister for Kalinago Affairs will attend as well as other members of the Kalinago community.