From Carib to Kalinago: What's in a name change
"My mother is Kalinago," said Joshua Francis, the new Parliamentary Representative for Roseau South. "I have a huge family that is indigenous."
Arguing that more time is needed to understand the ramifications of the change of name from Carib to Kalinago, Francis told Parliament that his motive is much more than party political.
"While we have had some quasi discussion on the subject, I am not sure this discussion has permeated deep enough for the children in the Kalinago Territory to understand the ramifications, if any, of a name change," Francis said. "My submission is, Madame Speaker, we have to measure the name change in a scientific approach."
During its meeting of February 20th 2015, Parliament approved two name changes for the island's indigenous people.
At the First Meeting of the First Session of the Ninth Parliament both sides of the House consented to change the name Carib to Kalinago and Reserve to Territory.
"It will foster greater respect for the Kalinago people at a global level and create a greater sense of communal pride and interest in our history and cultural heritage," said Minister for Kalinago Affairs, Dr. Cassius Darroux when he presented the Bill to the House. "Madame Speaker, a name change will re-present the image of the Kalinago people in a more affirmative way to reflect the better indigenous identity to dispel the historic negative connotation linked with the name Carib."
In 1978, Parliament passed the Carib Reserve Act in recognition of the contribution of the Kalinago people to Dominica's development.
But Francis said much more than a name-change has to be done to change the status of the Kalinago people.
"A name change can be cosmetic, it can also be profound," said Francis. "At the end of the day a change of name change may not improve the quality of life or welfare of any Kalinago brother and sister."
Francis added: "One of the major setbacks for the Kalinago people is the inability to obtain loans from the financial institutions in Dominica. (The land in the territory is jointly owned by all members of the Kalinago Territory).
"Ultimately, Madame Speaker, what we desire is to see our Kalinago brothers and sisters empowered in a manner where there is social and economic justice."
The Kalinago Territory is one of the poorest areas in Dominica and since the economy is largely based on agriculture, the demise of the industry, especially bananas, has had a devastating impact on employment and has acerbated many of the area's depressing social problems.
Established in 1903 by the British colonisers for the indigenous people of Dominica, the Carib Territory or Carib Reserve (now Kalinago Territory) is a 3,700-acre (15 km2) district in the north east of the island.
The Carib Reserve Act, enacted the year of Dominica's independence in 1978, reaffirmed the Carib Territory's boundaries, its land management, and institutions of local government.
The present population of the Territory is estimated around 3,000 Kalinagos. Legal residents share communal ownership of all land within the Territory. The Territory has limited local government in the institutions of the Carib (Kalinago) Council, and its head the Carib (Kalinago) Chief, which are the equivalent in power of village councils and council chairpersons elsewhere in Dominica. The administrative centre is in Salybia, the largest of eight hamlets in the Territory.
While making his contribution to the debate in Parliament last week, Francis suggested that government must allocate funds to meet the cost of rebranding and marketing that the name change will engender.