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Many St. Lucians of East Indian descent know very little of their origins and roots. The few who do are quickly passing on, but thanks to Keith Compton and Dr. Surage and a group of concerned Indian citizens, the aim is to keep the heritage and culture of India alive and blossoming in St. Lucia.
On Sunday, March 3, 2013, the third in a series of meetings was held at the Forestierre Combined School as a start to dig up these roots and hopefully find their rightful place in Saint Lucian history. And from the presentations made, it seems these roots are many, but unknown.
This year will mark the 150th anniversary of the arrival of East Indians in St. Lucia, according to one speaker, and with this in mind, wants the government to recognise this auspicious occasion by declaring May 6 as “Indian Arrival Day” in keeping with the observation in other Caribbean territories where Indians landed following the horrific and barbaric reign of slavery of Africans.
“I caution the organisers: this should not be about racism and division,” a young Indian man articulated as he spoke to the over 300 persons gathered under a tent in the school yard and over pouring unto the school’s corridors. “It is about pride and celebration of a lost or missing part of the history of St. Lucia.”
Guy Joseph gave a recollection of the original families who were settled in Forestierre, garnered from interviews with Indian elders.
Dr. Surage provided a historical perspective of the other areas where Indians settled in St. Lucia.
“The remains of the last ship that made it to St. Lucian shores are in a watery grave – it’s believed – in the Vigie Peninsula,” he noted.