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Learning lessons from the past for environmental protection and economic development

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The annual international conference hosted by The Garifuna Heritage Foundation (TGHF) has developed, over the last five years, into one of the most highly anticipated items on the calendar for National Heroes and Heritage Month.

Perhaps that should be restated, because the conference certainly does not attract the type of attendance seen at the various public social events also held during this month. But for the faithful who do attend, each instalment of the conference brings with it a treasure trove of stimulating lectures, discussions, films and activities that are eagerly looked forward to and have helped to enhance our understanding of our history, particularly that of the Cayo, Caribs, Black Caribs and Garifuna people.

The keynote address at the opening ceremony for this year’s edition lived up to expectations, with renowned Dominican historian and author Dr Lennox Honychurch making a refreshing comparison of the history, geography and agriculture of Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and the lessons our generation could learn about environmental protection from how our ancestors lived.

Other aspects of the conference include cultural activities specifically geared for schoolchildren and work to build and strengthen a connection to our proud and obviously colourful past.

With the recent opening of the Argyle International Airport (AIA), there are increased opportunities for the embracing and sharing to grow into expanded economic opportunities, including the rapidly growing heritage tourism business. In fact, an AIA Interpretation Centre is presently being put together to tell the story of the construction of the airport, including the pre-history of Argyle. The construction of a Cayo village in the vicinity of the airport, to be used as a tourist attraction, has already begun.

We must continue to support and encourage the promotion of the Vincentian story. Public enthusiasm must be nurtured, and community and group organizers provided with tangible assistance to build on this proud heritage, so that in time to come, these seminars and conferences will be greeted with as much enthusiasm as the public fetes.

We congratulate TGHF on having successfully hosted another conference and again call on them to widely disseminate the lectures by showing them on television and through publication of the papers presented.

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