“A warrior sent by God to defend his people.”
That’s how Deputy Leader of the United Workers Party (UWP), Joshua Francis, himself of Kalinago heritage, has described Dermatologist, Dr. Worrel Sanford, the UWP’s candidate for the Salybia constituency in the next general election.
The UWP presented Dr. Sanford to residents of that constituency at a town hall meeting at the St. Cyr Resource Centre on Friday, 12th April 2019.
Francis told the gathering that Sanford was “a warrior for the people sent by God with the spirit of courage, strength, kindness, selflessness, a super power house, a Kalinago leader.”
He congratulated the Kalinago People in making what he described as the wise and right choice.
“Dr. Worrel Sanford vows leadership when elected,” Francis declared.
Dr. Sanford in his presentation to the gathering, told his audience that he was cognizant of the huge challenge that lies ahead and the high expectation placed on him and the United Workers Party.
“It’s for this reason ladies and gentlemen, of the Salybia constituency that I unreservedly declare my full intent not
to come on the political scene for party nor government favor, but to play a pivotal role in establishing this foundation which we need to serve as a catalyst for our sustained economic development and people empowerment.
He then outlined an eight point development plan for the Kalinago people.
The plan includes the establishment of the Kalinago Development Corporation (KDC) to serve as the catalyst
for micro-enterprise development and self-empowerment for the residents of the Kalinago Territory which according to Sanford will “effectively address many of the problems caused by the dependency syndrome introduced by Labour.”
He said the KDC will be structured so as to attract donor funding and not be entirely dependent on Central Government and could inevitably lead to the establishment of an indigenous financial facility in the Territory.
Other aspects of Sanford’s plan include development of the Kalinago Territory as a model for successful community tourism to include a review of existing sites and facilities all the way to Antrizzle and the development/enhancement of others with potential for success. Dr. Sanford also promised to change what he believes is the exploitation by the Government of the image of the Kalinago People for marketing purposes while “they get nothing from it.” He vowed to revolutionize “the visitor’s Kalinago Experience” to ensure that the people benefit.
“I’m pleased to say that an exciting concept for this undertaking already exists. This will inevitably bring hope to our many craft and souvenir vendors who depend on this trade to feed their families. No more will visitors only drive through and leave nothing in the form of visitor spend in the community,” Dr. Sanford noted.
He said the establishment of micro enterprises such as cocoa and coffee processing, exotic drink production and improving the quality of our unique craft products will be vigorously pursued as well.
Recognizing the importance of the agricultural sector to economic success, food security and good nutrition, Sanford promised to lead an aggressive approach aimed at stimulating investments in this sector with a view to ramp up food production. A chicken farm is one of the specific projects which will be considered to meet some of the food needs of the people and “at the same time, provide much-needed decent jobs for our many unemployed youths in the constituency.” Attention will also be given to the redevelopment of the coconut subsector and other tree crops and the facilitation of a huckster trade involving at least five people in the constituency so as to enhance sales of agricultural produce.
Other proposed initiatives include the establishment of a technical institute in the constituency to provide skills for people empowerment, renaming Kalinago Week to Kalinago Cultural Festival, changing the date of the event with a view to having it included on the national calendar in order to increase its revenue-earning potential. The Atkinson Sewinal Festival will also be upgraded to national festival status with the aim of generating revenue for the community of Atkinson. The UWP candidate’s plans also include the introduction of a canoe regatta where traditional canoe racing will be held, and the revival of Kalinago culture with exchange programs locally, regionally and internationally.
“Currently, we have five medical doctors from the constituency on island which includes Dr. Dwayne Laville of Atkinson. Every effort will be made to ensure that one of our medical doctors is stationed at the Salybia Health Centre to provide you with greater access to health care,” Dr. Sanford stated in presenting his plan to bring “the best medical services to the Kalinago Territory.”
The parliamentary contender for Salybia is also planning to create a centre for learning where Kalinago women will be trained in areas of interest to them such as arts and craft, leadership skills, public speaking, among others and to develop Jolly John Park, to enable the facilitation of other community and national events.
“Strengthening the bond between the office of the MP and that of the Kalinago and Atkinson village Councils with a view to get maximum output on allocated resources and planning better will be high on my agenda. Increasing the subvention currently received by the Kalinago Council will also be pursued.
Dr. Sanford expressed gratitude and humility to the Kalinago people for granting him the opportunity to serve them pointing out that his decision to become a candidate was not an easy one but the persistence of Joshua Francis and a nod from his wife when she said, “Well, if we can get a babysitter….” , helped.
He said his personal reason for answering the call was the opportunity to represent, fight and champion the Kalinago causes.
“To give dignity to a people whose population was once 100 million strong when the evil invaders came, to a mere 3000 inhabitants today,” Sanford stated. He said Dominica have not treated the Kalinago people, Dr. Sanford said. “I would not run if UWP – Team Dominica would not take interest of the Kalinago People”. He admitted that he was approached by the Dominica Labour Party, years ago but refused their offer. There are too many issues affecting the Kalinago People.
Kalinago Chief, Charles Williams, an enthusiastic supporter of Dr. Sanford’s candidacy, described it as “the biggest thing to happen for the Kalinago people.”
The Chief believes that with Dr. Sanford’s representation in the next Government, issues and matters concerning the Kalinago People will finally be addressed. Such issues, according to the Chief, include the ILO Declaration #169 which deals with matters pertaining to Indigenous People – still to be ratified by Dominica, the US$10 million (EC$27 million) gift from the Venezuelan which he said was received by the Government of Dominica but was never handed over to the Kalinago People.
Chief Williams maintains that the Kalinago people have always had representatives in government but not representation.
“Dr.Sanford will give proper representation to the Kalinago people,” Williams declared. “The time is right!”