Five men and five women received their certificates on Friday, July 08 during a ceremony at the Barana Aute, following a seven week training course.

Minister for Environment, Rural Modernization and Kalinago Upliftment and Parliamentary Representative for the Salybia Constituency, Hon. Cozier Frederick is proud of the dedication of the Kalinago participants. He says the Kalinagos are naturally skilled with their hands, as it is evident in the structures across the constituency.

“We realize the Kalinago people are naturally skillful, naturally good with their hands and so you see the structure, we see the basketry, we see the calabash engravings we take for granted. But this means it comes from the inner strength of our ancestors and came down through our DNA and we are able to transcend all kind of stereotypes to be able to be a skillful people. And even when new tools introduced, and new art forms are introduced like leather craft and woodwork we are able without a doubt to jump in and master it. And I suspect we are well on our way to becoming even better than our instructors so I am very, very happy and excited for this because the resilience piece is so important,” Hon. Frederick stated.

Minister Frederick calls on trainees to use the skills earned to step economic opportunities to further develop themselves.

“So you might have a skill a skill that can make you wealthy if you do it well, a skill that will have you to shine above others and for the most part make you as equal as people in other parts of the island and you have to appreciate that skill and nurture it.  I hear your call for continued help and support and of course we are going to help and support because we were the ones who initiated the first steps to be able to have a partner in UNDP, to be able to identify a wonderful instructor like Mr. Richards. And so the Government has always played its part and we will continue to do that. So trainees it is important that you keep the task, you remain humble about it, you do it with diligence as you have already done and we can help you to grow in that space,” the Salybia MP noted.

Representative of the Prime Minister and Minister for Health, Wellness and New Health Investment, Hon. Dr. Irving McIntyre has expressed gratitude on behalf of the Government for their commitment and support to address the vulnerabilities across the island.

“The Government of Dominica is grateful for our partnership with the United Nations Development Programme which has, since the passage of Hurricane Maria in 2017, intensified it presence and commitment to the wellbeing of the Dominican people. I wish to take the opportunity to thank the UNDP team here for your sterling efforts to address the gaps in our vulnerable communities and to arm our citizens with the basic tools for their development. Dominica has been fortunate in recent years to receive the support of the UK and Canadian Governments to achieve our objectives of building climate resilience and enabling our people to take actions to address their challenges. We have seen this partnership bear fruits in countless ways which transcend our climate agenda but which are all concerned with helping us build greater resilience across the sectors,” Dr. McIntyre noted.  

Dr. McIntyre hopes to see a furniture industry stem from the wood crafting training in the Kalinago.

“I anticipate that out of this training we will see the growth of a furniture industry right here in the Kalinago Territory with products created and built to highlight aspects of your Kalinago history and culture. It means you are now empowered with prized skills to change your economic circumstances by putting your creativity to work and taking full advantage of the opportunity you have been afforded. The UNDP staff have devoted many months of hard work and dedicated efforts to equip you with these skills, specifically suited to your lifestyle culture and history as Dominica’s indigenous people,” Dr. McIntyre stated.

UNDP Engender National Project Assistant Ms. Alice Dalrymple reaffirms the support from UNDP to Dominica’s vision of becoming the world’s first climate resilient nation. This as UNDP seeks to prioritize climate proof economic diversification, support sustainable and inclusive growth, employment creation, social protection and poverty reduction, environmental management and cultural preservation. Ms. Dalrymple says the Kalinagos will not be left behind in this vision.

“The training programme provided ten Kalinago Braves with firsthand experience in mastering and exploring top of the line equipment under the guidance of Mr. Francis Richards that will help enhance their skills, knowledge and experience in the Craft and Souvenir Industry. This training was selected following a capacity building recommendation programme under the  livelihood assessment conducted in February under the leadership of the Ministry of Environment, Rural Modernisation and Kalinago Upliftment. For UNDP Engender and our partners his project marks an important milestone as we support the Kalinago people who are considered the longest remaining members of the Caribbean civilization as they remain a resilient people to protect and sustain their rich culture and way of life that has been sustainable and imbalanced with Caribbean eco systems and cultures for centuries,” Ms. Dalrymple explained.

Kalinago Chief, Oubotou Lorenzo Sanford shared words of encouragement to the newly skilled artisans. He says it is important to make progressives steps in wood craft as it is one of the main livelihoods of the Kalinagos.

“Although we may witness this as a closing ceremony, we should see it as an opening to new innovative creations in our Kalinago craft industry in the Kalinago Territory. Moving forward I would like to encourage you all to form or be part of Kalinago Craft Association to bring greater economic activity within our indigenous space,” Oubotou Sanford urged the participants.

The practical aspect of the training programme began on May 17 2022. The initial group of twelve participants was divided into two subgroups for better accommodation. Group A was allotted Mondays and Tuesdays while Group B, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Mr. Francis Richards says the seven-week training could only scratch the surface of potential from these participants. He believes great things await them in the craft and souvenir industry.

“A suitable site has been identified as a possible central location for the commencement of the productivity centre. The source and processing of working materials, that is mahogany red cedar etc., appears to be readily available,” Mr. Richards stated.

Training Participant, Mr. Reny Auguiste says the people of the Kalinago Territory should work collectively to see its development.

“No force on earth can stop the momentum of an idea whose time has come. Therefore I encourage you the listening public, that when we start and you see any of us doing crafting and carving, to come and have a look. Come learn something new and beneficial. It’s not my thing; it’s not the participants who did this training thing; all of us are to benefit; it’s our thing. I encourage us the participants to continue what we began. Let us make this work. Let us prove to ourselves that we can make a positive difference,” Mr. Auguiste stated.  

The Ministry of Environment, Rural Modernisation And Kalinago Upliftment made this initiative possible with support from the Governments of Canada and the UK as Government works towards a gender responsive climate resilient Dominica.