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Fri Feb 27, 2015

The upcoming week will mark the beginning of National Heroes’ Month, an annual affair aimed at honouring the contributions of our National Heroes and reclaiming our proud heritage as a people. The centrepiece of the month revolves around March 14, National Heroes’ Day, on which we pay tribute to our only formally recognized National Hero, Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer.{{more}}

Since the designation of Chatoyer as the national hero and the institutionalization of National Heroes’ Month, we have made strides in reclaiming our heritage. But it is also true to say that we still have a long way to go. To some extent the momentum has been lost, and we run the risk of taking too much for granted, neither deepening nor enriching the process. We cannot allow that to happen.

It was, therefore, with a profound sense of pride that the Midweek edition of this paper was able to cover a story last Tuesday, February 24, very relevant to all that National Heritage Month entails. On page 2 of that issue we report on a successful effort by members of the Kalinago Tribe of SVG to construct a canoe, using materials and methods as did their ancestors.

This is ground-breaking stuff which ought to be kept in the forefront, publicised and broadcast for all to see. It is still difficult for people in the 21st century who are yet to have the colonial scales removed from their eyes to appreciate the achievements of our original inhabitants. By and large, the images we have of them do not coincide with the colonial concepts of development and civilisation. Efforts such as those of the Kalinago Tribe of SVG are positive steps in the right direction which must be supported and showcased.

Much is made of the voyages of Columbus, very little is known of or said about the voyages of the indigenous people of this hemisphere, travelling through the Americas and exploring the islands and shorelines of the continents using craft that the colonialists would describe as “primitive”. We have a lot to learn.

The initiative of the Kalinago Tribe of SVG, is therefore, more than worthy of support. We cannot leave it up to their overseas sponsors, grateful as we are for their support, to underwrite efforts to reclaim our history. We need national support, at both the levels of the State and private sector. We need to signal that all such efforts are appreciated and encouraged.

We tip our hats to the Kalinago Tribe of SVG and on its behalf make an appeal here for public support. Reclaiming our heritage is a national duty.

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