PRESS RELEASE – Sir Dunstan St. Omer’s contribution to education cannot be discounted. This invaluable contribution was made during the period spanning the 70’s and 80’s at the Saint Lucia Teachers’ College, now the Division of Teacher Education and Educational Administration of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, where he served as Lecturer in Art.
In the execution of his duties, he helped to hone the artistic skills of hundreds of student teachers in training.
His students fondly remember him as one who was always high spirited, and who acknowledged the beauty in any artistic attempt and endeavour, however trivial it might have been seen by the budding and sometimes befuddled artist.
Sir Dunstan was also employed at the Ministry of Education as an Art Specialist. While at the Ministry, he was credited with initiating a programme to incorporate the art of painting into the curriculum of infant and primary schools.
As Saint Lucia’s premier artist and muralist, his most noted achievement has been the designing of the national flag of Saint Lucia, a feat he often reflected on with much pride.
He often articulated that his joy emanated from seeing the flag hoisted for the first time during the 1979 Independence celebrations. This flag represented the breaking of the chains of colonialism and the young nation, Saint Lucia, claiming its place on the world’s stage.
Sir Dunstan’s first mural was commissioned by Fr. Joseph Vrignaud, for the altar of Our Lady’s Chapel at La Clery. He would go on to paint several impressive murals on the island, drawing acclaim and criticism for his depictions of black divinity.
One of his most notable murals is the Holy Family Mural at the Church of the Holy Family at Jacmel, Roseau. Regarding the issue of his depiction of black divinity, he said, “If my faith depends on Christ being white, I think I will lose my faith because the relationship that exists in the world between the white race and the black race is one of prejudice and inferiority for the blacks.”
The Saint Lucian and regional communities have recognised the significant contributions of Sir Dunstan St. Omer to the development of the Arts. On the 25th anniversary of Saint Lucia’s
Independence, he was awarded the Saint Lucia Cross by the Government of Saint Lucia. In 2007, the Folk Research Centre declared him a National Cultural Hero. In 2009, he received an honorary Doctor of Letters Degree from the University of the West Indies. This was followed in 2011 with the Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George.
The Board of Governors and Staff of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College say farewell to a beloved son of the soil who was exemplary and extremely patriotic. We say farewell to the one who was christened Gregorias by our Nobel Laureate, Honourable Derek Walcott.