The Garifuna Heritage Foundation 2017 International Garifuna Summit

The Garifuna Heritage Foundation (TGHF) held its 4th International Summit from March 7th- 13th 2017, under the theme: “Celebrating Our Indigenous History, Heritage and Cultures – From Mainland to Islands and Return: Strengthening links, Forging networks, Claiming Ancestral space”. The Summit included an International Conference, Film Screenings, an International Garifuna Dance & Music Festival, a Cultural Marketplace, a National Garifuna Folk Festival for Schools and the establishment of a Traditional Garifuna Village.


The first event held was a series of Garifuna Film Screenings. With the permission from the Ministry of Education, Garifuna films were screened in all the Secondary Schools on the Island. The public also got a chance to view Garifuna films on Monday and Tuesday 6th-7th March at the National Public Library’s Conference room, Kingstown between the hours of 1:00-5:00 pm.  Thursday March 9th was another day for Film Screening for the public at the Alliance Francaise, Kingstown from 3:00- 6:00 pm.


On March 7th the Opening Ceremony for the Summit was held at The Methodist Church Hall, Kingstown and was chaired by Mr. Ronnie Daniel of the UWI Open Campus. The featured Keynote speaker was Dr. Lennox Honychurch a well known Caribbean Historian from Dominica. Speakers included Mrs. Deborah Dalrymple , Resident Tutor, UWI Open Campus and Mr.David Williams, President, TGHF.


The One-Day Conference was jointly co-sponsored by the Garifuna Heritage Foundation and the UWI Open Campus.  It was held at the Peace Memorial Hall on March 8th. Dr. Cleve Scott, Dr. Adrian Fraser, Ms. Vanessa Demirciyan and Dr. Lennox Honychurch all presented on the topic “The Indigenous Experience-History and Perspectives”. The discussion session was well received by the persons attending in the conference, especially the students.

In the afternoon the conference was then set up into a workshop setting. This idea was developed to target the students and have them be more interested and interactive in the conference. Mr. Calvert Jones, well-known Vincentian Photographer and Artist, conducted this part of the conference under the topic “Visibility of the Indigenous Peoples’ Heritage and involvement of the Youths.” The main objective of the afternoon’s session was to see more participation of the youths in the Garifuna Heritage and Culture and it was well received.


As part of this years event, a Traditional Garifuna Village was reconstructed on the grounds of the Carnegie Building which houses the SVG National Trust in the capital City, Kingstown.  A Craft Market was also set up in Heritage Square in the heart of   Kingstown.  Both these events ran from March 8th – 9th.

The village showcased  how our ancestors lived and also enabled Vincentians to appreciate and acknowledge the way of life of our ancestors.  Huts were constructed which displayed different artifacts from our ancestors, pictures, banners under the theme displaying “From Orinoco to Exile”. On the second day of the Traditional Village the Chief Joseph Chatoyer International Garifuna Ballet Company from New York City  visited the village and gave a guest performance.

The Craft Market was organized in collaboration with the Adult and Continuing Education Unit in the Ministry of Education and allowed local handicraft producers to display their crafts, arts and food. The idea was to highlight the creativity of locals and also to show/ enlighten the public about the various indigenous crafts that are still being practiced by persons in the country. This was also an opportunity not only to display the works but also to provide a market opportunity for the men and women who continue to carry on the local traditions.

The National School’s Garifuna Folk Festival and History Expo was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Education at Victoria Park, on  10th March. This event targeted all Primary and Secondary Schools in SVG.  Each school had an opportunity to perform a Garifuna Folk song, Drama, Poem, Dance etc. and the schools were very enthusiastic about this event.  The schools which participated went to great lengths in preparing for this event. They dressed in the traditional black, yellow and white Garifuna colours and the effect was fantastic.


The School Festival began with a march and rally of the students from the Bishop’s College, Kingstown to the Victoria Park. The rally was lead by the SVG Royal Police Force Band and the CW Prescod Boom Drummers. The Chief Joseph Chatoyer Folkloric Dance Company from New York performed a guest piece for the children at Victoria Park. It was an exciting performance that had everyone captivated. While some schools were performing other schools were taking advantage of viewing the section the History Expo. The History Expo, organized by the Ministry of Education, was also held in Victoria Park.  At the History Expo,  Secondary Schools displayed various arts, craft and food.

The 2017 International Garifuna Summit included the International Garifuna Dance and Music festival, which featured for the first time ever in St. Vincent and the Grenadines the Chief Joseph Chatoyer Folkloric Dance Company from NYC. This group is made up of both male and female  Garifuna descendants from Belize, Guatemala, Honduras who live in New York City. They performed a wide range of Garifuna dancing, drumming and singing. Their visit to SVG on March 9th to March 15th will always be remembered as an uplifting experience for both the group and the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The groups’ first appearance was at the Traditional Village where they performed at the opening ceremony of the village and market center. They captured a number of persons with their captivating dances and language. The group also performed at the National School’s Garifuna Folk Festival and History Expo and at the SVG Community College. Later that night at the Peace Memorial Hall the Chief Joseph Chatoyer Folkloric Ballet Company featured as the highlight of the International Garifuna Dance and Music Festival. The group performed and gave their best to a packed and appreciative audience.

This was a spectacular show that left everyone who attended in awe. The very next day the program continued where the group  toured the Windward side of the island, to places like Black Point, Sandy Bay, Owia and Fancy. The Owia community had their Heroes day celebration and invited the group to be a part of their celebrations. The group performed and interacted with the persons who attended that particular event. It was a very exciting day for both the group and the community.

On Sunday, March 12th the group travelled to the Grenadine Island of Bequia.  The group was scheduled for a Pilgrimage to Ballieacux on that particular day but this was cancelled due to the inclement weather. The very next day the group also travelled to the Leeward side of the Island and visited Rose Hall, Troumaca, Richmond Vale, Rose Bank and Chateaubelair.   The group also visited the Troumaca  Secondary School where they gave a performance to the teachers and students at the school. On their way back the group hosted an evening workshop at Peace Memorial Hall, Kingstown for over 70 young persons  – many dance groups were present.

March 14th is celebrated as National Heroes Day and the group journeyed to Dorsetshire Hill for the annual Wreath Laying Ceremony for our National Hero Chief Joseph Chatoyer. The Chief Joseph Chatoyer Folkloric ballet Company participated in this ceremony by honoring Chief Joseph Chatoyer in dance, drumming and singing and by laying a Wreath on behalf of the Garifuna Heritage Foundation. Later that afternoon the group traveled to Greiggs to participate in their Annual Heroes Day Celebrations. The Greiggs community was excited to have the Chief Joseph Chatoyer Folkloric Ballet Company celebrate and perform for the community.

Our 2017 International Garifuna Summit ended on Monday 13th March as a tremendous success. The Participation from the general public, the media and the Public and Private Sector were indeed important for this success and we wish to extend a heartfelt “THANK YOU!”  to all who assisted us and who participated.  The TGHF Board of Directors particularly wish to thank the hardworking members of the Planning Committee including those representatives from the UWI Open Campus, the Ministry of Education, The National Library Service, the National Parks Rivers and Beaches Authority, the Forestry Department, the SVG Community College, the Alliance Francaise, the Adult and Continuing Education Unit and the Ministry of Tourism Sports and Culture.  We also thank the Media for all the extensive coverage during these events.


This entry was posted in Past Events. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.