27 April 2011

Indigenous-African Relations Across the Americas

Our Legacy: Indigenous-African Relations Across the Americas, is a three-day conference about to start at York University, in Toronto, in which I am pleased to participate. It was organized by Canadian indigenous scholar, Bonita Lawrence. The noteworthy feature of this conference is that it also serves as a mini international gathering of indigenous representatives from across the Caribbean, primarily from Belize, Honduras, Dominica, St. Vincent, and Trinidad & Tobago. To begin the event, Joseph O. Palacio was to have been the keynote speaker, but no longer appears to be attending. 

During the morning of Saturday, 30 April 2011, two panels will be focusing on the Caribbean. Panel 2, Contemporary Indigenous Caribbean Identity, will feature: "Carib Identity, Racial Politics, and the Problem of Belonging" by Maximilian Forte"Good and Evil in the Garden: Indigenous and African Oppression and Solidarity in the Post-Contact Caribbean" by Leah Stewart; and, "Surviving as Garinagu in the 21st Century: Resisting and Transforming Colonial Categories of Race in Honduras" by Kimberly Palmer.

Panel 3: Historical Perspectives on the Colonial Project in the Caribbean and Circum-Caribbean Region will feature: "Caliban's Caribbean Voyage: Historicising Caribbean Discourses of Indigeneity and Indigenization" by Melanie Newton"The (Re)vision of Slavery: Bartolomé de Las Casas and Francisco José de Jaca's formulation of a counter-legal discourse in the Hispanic Caribbean" by Rebeca Moreno-Orama; and,  "Black Cultural Brokers on Spain's Indigenous Frontiers" by Jane Landers.

Unfortunately, the panels appear to be taking place simultaneously, which will hinder my own coverage of the Caribbean-related events.

In the afternoon on the same day, a very exciting panel:

Contemporary Indigenous-Black Relations in the Caribbean with:

Zoila Ellis Browne, Garifuna Cultural Foundation of St. Vincent,
Irvince Auguiste Kalinago Nation of Dominica,
Brendon Lacaille, Santa Rosa Carib Community, Trinidad

Adapted from the conference program, more about each of the above:

Zoila Ellis Browne, of the Garifuna Cultural Foundation of St. Vincent, lives in St. Vincent. She has an Masters Degree – Mphil in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, U.K. and a Bachelor of Laws (Llb) ) Honours from the University of the West Indies, Barbados. From June 2006 to the present, she has been a Magistrate of District III, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in charge of adjudicating Civil and Criminal Cases in Seven (7) Magistrates Courts in the District. For many years she has worked to develop programs to guide the disbursement of European Union Grant Funds to support public and private sector projects in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominican Republic. She has been Senior Attorney-at-Law at legal firms in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Belize, and a consultant on human rights, anti-poverty, farmers and environmental concerns and efforts to promote biodiversity in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Belize. From 2001 to 2009 she was the founder and President of the Garifuna Heritage Foundation, a non- governmental organization dedicated to the promotion and development of the indigenous Garifuna Culture in St.Vincent and the Grenadines and the diaspora. She speaks English, Spanish, and some Garifuna.

Irvince Auguiste, Kalinago Nation of Dominica, is former Chief of the Kalinago (Carib) Territory of Dominica and remains a member of the Carib Council. The Carib Territory in Dominica is the Caribbean's largest remaining community of Caribs. This 3,700-acre reserve has approximately 4,000 people of Carib descent. Auguiste has been involved in numerous projects to promote Carib heritage, including being project manager of the Touna Village development project. This project aims to show visitors a living Kalinago village; all 70 villagers in Touna have a stake in the project and open their homes to visitors. They demonstrate traditional skills such as basket weaving, making cassava bread and extracting juice from sugar cane. Auguiste notes that the Kalinago have been working as guides in tourism for many years; however, with projects like the Touna Village, Caribs are beginning to control and benefit from tourism; moreover, this has stimulated an interested in revitalizing traditional Carib practices. Recently, Auguiste has also been involved in a project to develop a radio station for the Carib territory. He notes that an indigenous radio station for the Kalinago people would foster greater communication amongst the island's Caribs, as well as promoting cultural revival and education programs about Carib people in Dominica.

Brendon Lacaille, Santa Rosa Carib Community, Trinidad, is a member of the Santa Rosa Carib Community, Arima, Trinidad, where he addresses Afro-Carib identity within the membership. He has a BA in Liberal Arts from the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies. Since 1999 he has been the Administrative Director as well as part-time lecturer at Arts-in-Action, Centre for Creative and Festival Arts, University of the West Indies in Trinidad, West Indies. Arts-in-Action utilizes the creative arts, specifically drama/theatre, including the carnival arts, festival performances and folklore (as is mandated by the mission of the Centre and Arts-in-Action's own emerging methodology called 'Legacy Theatre') in making theatre for educational purposes. In relation to its youth work portfolio, the group has completed projects that deal with violence, self-esteem, drug abuse, globalisation, consumerism, environmental literacy and conservation, curricula and its 'flagship' project "Jus' Once" which focuses on sexuality, STI's and HIV/AIDS.

Reports from the conference may appear on this site, and you can also check tweets from @1D4TW. Until later...

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