The University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus, in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, is hosting its third country conference, under the theme “Creole as a Cultural Heritage: Framing, Strengthening and Advocating.”
The conference is set to take place over the course of two days, and will focus on advancing creole heritage, Dominica’s culture and tourism, and Kalinago people.
Chief Technical Officer in the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Roland Royer, commended the work of the Open Campus in preserving and advancing Dominican culture, dubbing the conference “timely and certainly beneficial.”
“This country conference provides us with a most important platform to bring to the floor a subject of immense significance to evolving civilization… The growth of our Dominican civilization has its roots and antecedence in the multi-ethnic nature of its population and society, and the diverse and dynamic nature of our culture and heritage,” he explained. “As proud beneficiaries of this amazing country, we owe a debt of gratitude to our ancestors who struggled and fought to preserve what we have today. This struggle for national identity, it is rooted mainly in our creole sensibility, elements of which are highlighted in many aspects of our culture has helped to pull our society together, and give us peace and stability in this long struggle against colonialism and neo-colonialism.”
Royer insisted that it is necessary to cultivate a better understanding of creole and its profound influence on Dominican culture.
“Our creole culture is rooted in our various influences and many elements that have impacted our small-island state over the centuries. It is not always well-understood and not fully appreciated by many of us. There is clearly a need for us to have a better understanding of those impacts and how best we can utilize them to create a peaceful and just society. This country conference is, therefore, uniquely placed to help us recognize the value of this national endeavor on spirit,” he stated. “As we look to build a modern and dynamic society, it is, therefore, incumbent on us to examine closely how we are best able to integrate many critical aspects of culture and heritage to our national development efforts.”
Senior Lecturer at the University of the Bedfordshire in the United Kingdom (UK), Dr. Violet Cuffy, described the conference as a platform to explore creole culture in all its variations.
“… We seek to understand each other’s representations of various creole dimensions and retain a common and unified paradigm for the work of our proposed network. The aim here is to develop a platform on which future representations of the creole culture can be strengthened and advanced as it continues to evolve from one era and/or generation to the next,” she stated. “We recognize that the creole cultural heritage is rich, alive and vibrant. However, we equally acknowledge its dynamism and it is one which continues to evolve over time. Thus, our focus, arrived at after much debate and negotiation among the organizing team, is not so much to preserve a dying tradition, but to embrace the core of who we are as a people in all its facets… It is this depth of appreciation and engagement that we seek to explore… this opulent and diverse creole heritage.”
Cuffy, who was awarded a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to fund the establishment of an International Creole Research Network, said she hoped that by the end of the conference, “we will be much closer to making advocacy to the creole best practices currently employed by our sister creole nations,” such as Haiti, St. Lucia, Martinique, and Guadeloupe.