The Dominica National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) through the Government of Dominica, has officially launched the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund (ICH) Support Project, under the theme “Strengthening Capacities at the National and Local Levels for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Dominica.”

The project will be implemented for a period of eighteen months and aims to focus on strengthening the capacities of Government, civil society, individual practitioners, and knowledge bearers to document safeguard and promote Dominica’s living or intangible heritage.

The project was officially launched by Director and Representative of the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean Dr. Anna Paolini. She says UNESCO will seek to engage a number of stakeholders to generate awareness for the project.

“UNESCO will make sure to adopt an inclusive approach to guarantee the widest possible participation of stakeholders in particular community groups in the design and implementation of the safeguarding activity in order to leave no one behind. Heritage community leaders, Indigenous communities, traditional bearers and practitioners, youth, women, girls, teachers, educators, and local media are among those stakeholders to whom the project will reach out. Their participation is pivotal to generate awareness and fostering ownership. This project will also aim at creating awareness on the importance of gender equality with a gender responsive approach in the practice of safeguarding the country’s cultural heritage,” Dr. Paolini stated.

Minister for Sports, Culture and Community Development Hon. Roselyn Paul says the project is timely as it reflects Government’s efforts to preserve Dominica’s cultural heritage.

“This new Intangible Cultural Heritage Project is timely as we recognize the importance of intangible cultural heritage to cultural diversity and strengthening the sense of belonging, pride and cohesion, within communities. The project also supports our years of efforts and tremendous work in the preservation of Dominica’s tradition and cultural heritage, much of which we continue to showcase for all to see and experience throughout the years,” Hon. Paul stated.

Meantime, Minister for Education, Human Resource Planning, Vocational Training and National Excellence Hon. Octavia Alfred says the cost of the project is sixty-five thousand us dollars.

“In March 2021, UNESCO approved this project in the amount of 65,000 US dollars. This project will be significant since its scope covers identifying, documenting and safeguarding our intangible cultural heritage, training custodians of this heritage, documenting the knowledge of our practitioners and creating awareness about the intangible cultural heritage among our population especially our young people,” Hon. Alfred stated.

Minister Alfred expressed thanks to UNESCO for their commitment to the improvement of Dominica’s cultural heritage.

“We therefore wish to thank UNESCO for your timely initiative and support. We are grateful for your commitment in assisting the Caribbean States like Dominica to identify the various avenues for using culture as a tool for development and for raising awareness of the importance of intangible cultural heritage,” the Minister noted.

Minister Alfred encouraged citizens to become active participants in the project.

“I encourage all communities and individuals within these communities to become active participants in this project because it is our cultural heritage and we are the owners of it. Therefore we must be involved in its safeguarding efforts. I therefore would like to wish the project team every success in the implementation of this project. Let us strengthen our capacity at the national and local levels for the safeguarding of our intangible cultural heritage, because if we lose it we will regret it. Our cultural heritage is responsible for our survival throughout the ages and this it what will help us in overcoming at every stage in our development,” Hon. Alfred added.

Secretary General of the Dominica National Commission for UNESCO Mrs. Romualda Hyacinth expressed gratitude to UNESCO for their continued support.

“UNESCO is tasked with supporting the safeguarding of living heritage and ensuring its transmission to future generations as stipulated in the 2003 Convention. Therefore we must thank UNESCO for its continued work and support to small island states such as Dominica in the area of culture. We thank the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for supporting this activity and the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean for its technical support in this project as we seek to build partnerships aimed at safeguarding Dominica’s intangible cultural heritage,” Mrs. Hyacinth stated.