History Week 2014, at CHS

Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 October 2014 Published: Sunday, 12 October 2014 Written by Deborah Harris

History week kicked off in high gear at the Convent High School on Monday, 6th October. The theme for this year’s celebrations is “Kalinago Heritage”. To this end, the History Department planned and executed the morning Assemblies with this theme in mind.


On Monday morning, the Assembly, which was led by Mrs. Harris, Department Head, was conducted by the members of the History Department. Celine Christopher, a fifth form student, did the Bible reading. The theme for the week was introduced. A short history of the arrival of the Kalinago people in the region was read, and various aspects of their cultural heritage were highlighted. Mr. Claudius Sanford, Monday’s invited guest, gave an entertaining and informative address on the theme. He addressed different aspects of Kalinago culture, including pointing out some of the villages that bear Kalinago names. He made an appeal for an end to the subtle racism against the Kalinago people that still exists among some Dominicans and highlighted the achievements of the Kalinago people in areas such as medicine and education.
Also on Monday, CHS received a special treat in the form of a performance by the Karina Cultural Group, who put on a very entertaining and culturally instructive performance. The students were invited to get involved, as they danced the moon dance and the snake dance with two members of the group. A good time was had by all.  We thank the Karina Cultural Group for entertaining us and we certainly look forward to another visit from the Karina Cultural Group in the future.

On Tuesday, a small exhibition of Kalinago craft-work was set up in the Library. Thanks to Mrs. Harris for contributing the craft-work that was on display.  We also thank Celine Christopher of 5-B for contributing the Kalinago story of “Maruka and Simanari” and  Zene Harris of 1-4 for contributing the beautiful drawing “Kalinago Girl”, which was done by the artist “Pak ‘E’ ”.

On Wednesday morning, the Assembly was led by History teacher, Ms. Diane Charles and her First Form students. At the end of the Assembly, some first formers, who were dressed in Kalinago wear, performed the Kalinago snake dance on the courtyard. This was very well received by the Staff and Students.  We thank Ms. Charles and the students of Form One for a very meaningful and enjoyable Assembly.    

Following the dance, Mr. Gregory Rabess, Cultural Projects Officer of the Cultural Division, addressed the students. During his address, Mr. Rabess, who is always entertaining and informative, referred to some traditional words and sayings  that we commonly use, but maybe do not even realize that they are a part of the Kalinago language; sayings like “ah wah”, which, he said, means an emphatic “no!”. He also reminded us that some of the names of villages and places in Dominica are Kalinago names. He then concluded with an interactive, leader and response singing of “Wey, Kalinago!”, with the Staff and students. We thank Mr. Rabess for attending the Assembly and for sharing his knowledge and his talents with us.

Thursday morning’s Assembly was led by Ms. Alexander, ably assisted by some of her students. Their focus was on Kalinago stories. During the Assembly, in addition to offering up prayers for the welfare of the Kalinago people, two traditional Kalinago stories were read. We thank Ms. Alexander and her students for leading us in prayer on Thursday.

On Friday morning, the Assembly was led by Ms. Jno.Baptiste and her group of students.  In her introduction, Ms. Jno.Baptiste recounted the story of how Massacre got its name, in addition to highlighting other information about the Kalinago people. The students again offered up prayers on behalf of Dominica and, especially, the Kalinago people. We thank Ms. Jno.Baptiste and her students for leading us in prayer.

Friday’s invited guest was Hon. Ashton Graneau, Minister of Carib Affairs and Parliamentary Representative for the Kalinago Territory. Hon. Graneau addressed the students on several aspects of Kalinago history and social life. He said, among other things, that he supports the theory which states that the Kalinago people entered the islands from South America. He also reminded us that the acreage of the Carib Territory has been increased to 3,783.02 acres.  Hon. Graneau informed the Staff and students about some of the plans that are afoot to aid the development of the Kalinago people of Dominica. We thank Hon. Graneau for taking the time to attend our Assembly and we appreciate his very informative and interesting address.

The History Department would like to thank Ms. Leandra Lander for designing and making the banner for History Week, for the “Kweyol Words Of The Day” board and for decorating the school. Ms. Lander is always willing to go “above and beyond” to assist whenever she is asked to. Thank you also to Ms. Dhanelle Cuffy, who so graciously consented to make the fruit baskets, which were presented to our guests.  She, assisted by Ms. Jno.Baptiste, is also responsible for the “Did You Know” educational board, which highlights some facts about the Kalingo culture. Finally, we would like to thank the Administration, Staff and Students of the Convent High School for participating in the History Week celebrations and helping to make it a success.

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