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Valuing our heritage: Through the eyes of communities

By SLNT

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(PRESS RELEASE) – What do you get when six research teams elicit views on the value of Saint Lucia’s heritage from residents in six communities across the island? The answers will be revealed at an exhibition on Wednesday, December 4th at the Constitution Park, Castries and Friday, December 6th at the Laborie Credit Union front yard, Vieux Fort. The exhibition will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at both locations.

The upcoming exhibition forms part of culminating activities of Phase II of an Organization of American States project entitled ‘Enhancing the Development of a Heritage Economy in the Caribbean’ being implemented by the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF) and the Ministry of Tourism, Information and Broadcasting, Culture and Creative Industries.

The cultural values of Saint Lucians through generations were researched, as well as what makes us Saint Lucians and why we are proud of our traditions. Other intriguing areas researched included: ‘Why are we considered a cultural melting pot with a perceived view of so many being out of touch culturally?’ and ‘Where in Saint Lucia are we losing, developing and discovering cultural heritage?’ The exhibition will identify current perceptions of cultural heritage and its significance among selected communities. The findings, which have been collated in a report, are intended to assist in the development of cultural sustainability criteria for a Sustainable Heritage Tourism Endorsement programme that supports the development of livelihoods, heritage and cultural capital.

According to Raymona Henry-Wynne, CDF’s Executive Director, “We hope the public will come out in large numbers to view the exhibition and share their thoughts on this important topic of our heritage. It is imperative that the heritage-related products and services offered to visitors reflect and resonate with local cultural perceptions”.

The six teams with support from research assistants carried out the study over a period of four months; June – September 2019. Three participatory ethnographic research methods were used to gather qualitative data: Mobile Oral Histories, Photovoice sessions and Focus Groups, and the discussion notes about each were coded and analyzed for dominant themes and recurring ideas. The research teams comprised of representatives from the CDF, the Folk Research Centre, Laborie Development Foundation, Tet Paul Nature Trail, the Saint Lucia National Trust, Youth SPAC and the Saint Lucia Archaeological and Historical Society. While the communities involved were Laborie, Belle Vue, Soufriere, Monchy, Choiseul and La Toc, Castries.

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