If Lorenzo Sanford is elected Kalinago Chief, he will be the youngest to do so, in the 2019 crop of candidates vying for that position.
In fact, the 22 year-old Sanford is among the youngest in the history of the Kalinago Territory, to have contested that position.
According to a Kalinago source, two other Kalinago Chiefs were younger than Sanford. According to a Kalinago source, they are: Hilary Frederick who served from 1978 to 1984 and Irvince Auguiste who held office from 1984 to 1994.
Sanford told Dominica News Online (DNO) that he decided to contest the election for Kalinago Chief in response to the call for young people to take up more leadership positions in their communities.
He graduated from the Castle Bruce Secondary School in 2013 and went on to attend the Dominica State College where he obtained an Associate Degree in Agriculture. He has been a youth leader in his church and currently works as a carpenter.
Sanford is from the hamlet of Bataca which he says, has never had a representative in the elections for Kalinago Chief.
The aspiring Kalinago youth says if he wins the elections, his plans are, “to build better relations within other indigenous communities abroad, implement ways to help youth socially and economically in land management, employ strength-based approaches instead of deficit modeling, create a diversification in crop production in the Kalinago Territory and maintain ancient yet relevant Kalinago Ontology.”
Sanford believes he has a “great chance” of winning because according to him, by taking this bold step as a young man, he has gotten the Kalinago youth to gravitate towards him. He also believes that the relationship which he has built with the Kalinago community has strengthened his chances of winning.
The Carib or Kalinago Chief presides over the Kalinago Council, the local government of the Kalinago Territory. Former Kalinago Chief, Garnet Joseph explains in an article which he wrote, entitled The Kalinago Chiefs Of Dominica, that the changing times have dictated the role of the modern day Chief.
“The ceremonial Chief is now history. The demanding role of the Kalinago Chief requires him to be computer literate, with excellent communication skills, Office and Project Manager, Counsellor, Fund Raiser, and Diplomat are all functions that the Chief has to perform,” Joseph writes.
The election of Kalinago Chiefs can be dated back to the 1800s. According to an article on the Division of Culture Website, throughout history, the Chief has played a very important role in keeping the Kalinago people together in times of peace and hostility.
Initially, Chiefs were selected by the Elders for specific functions, such as hunting or fishing expeditions, but could not exercise authority after the mission was completed. This was the custom in Dominica as the communities consisted of only a few families. However, as Garnet Joseph points out, the role of the Chief has changed over time. So far, there have been 18 Carib Chiefs in the history of the Kalinago people.
Sanford will be running against incumbent Charles Williams, Elvis Francis, Irvince Auguiste and Jumardine Fredrick.