Stakeholders in St. Kitts and Nevis participate in Intangible Cultural Heritage consultation 

Stakeholders from St. Kitts and Nevis recently engaged in an Intangible Cultural Heritage consultation aimed at preserving the nation’s culture and traditions. 

The session, which was held on 3rd July was a critical part of the “Safeguarding St. Kitts and Nevis Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) – Developing a National Policy ICH Project,” funded by UNESCO.

The primary objective of the consultation was to underscore the significance of correct and effective documentation of cultural heritage. Proper documentation ensures the preservation of cultural authenticity and the transmission of traditions to future generations. The project emphasises research, meticulous documentation, and the establishment of mechanisms to guarantee generational continuity of cultural practices.

Minister with responsibility for Culture, Samal Duggins, stated that the Intangible Cultural Heritage Consultations were critical as the country continues toward the pathway for the preservation of culture and traditions.

“We will be defined by what is documented.  A lot of really good civilizations are not remembered simply for the fact that their cultures have not been documented,” he stated.

UNESCO has allocated approximately US$92,000.00 to this initiative, demonstrating its commitment to cultural preservation in St. Kitts and Nevis. The project has been propelled by extensive remedial efforts led by Marlene Phillips, an Adviser to the ICH Secretariat in the Department of Sports and Creative Economy. 

Nigel Encalada, a Belizean specialist in Intangible Cultural Heritage, serves as the UNESCO Consultant and facilitator on the ground, guiding the project’s implementation.

The key components of the project are comprehensive research, conducted to gather detailed information on various aspects of the nation’s intangible cultural heritage, and effective documentation practices, to ensure that cultural heritage is accurately recorded and preserved.

Additionally, strategies and frameworks are being developed to ensure that cultural practices are passed down, through tradition bearers, to future generations without losing their authenticity. The aim is to have the information easily accessible to the public, and especially students, who are doing CXC School Based Assessments and are completing university projects.

The stakeholder consultation process is ongoing and will conclude at the programme’s end in December 2024. By this time, St. Kitts and Nevis is expected to have a formal ICH policy in place which will serve as a framework for safeguarding the nation’s intangible cultural heritage.

The ICH project is vital for the preservation of St. Kitts and Nevis’ rich cultural heritage through the documentation and safeguarding of cultural practices, especially as St. Kitts and Nevis puts systems in place to ensure that traditions remain vibrant and integral to its national identity. 

The involvement of UNESCO, combined with the expertise of specialists like Nigel Encalada, provide a solid foundation for the successful implementation of this initiative.

Photo: Marlene Phillips, Adviser to the ICH Secretariat (Photo: SKNIS)

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