Dr. Violet Cuffy
Dr. Violet Cuffy

Too little time, too much to do and most likely there will be another Creole conference that could focus on specific aspects of Creole culture such as cuisine.

That's the assessment of Dominican Dr. Violet Cuffy, Senior Lecturer at the University of the Bedfordshire in the United Kingdom (UK), one of the organisers.

The Ministry of Tourism and Culture via Kommité pou Etid Kwéyòl (KEK), the UWI Open Campus, the University of Bedfordshire, UK and the Arts & Humanities Research Council hosted the Dominica Country Conference 2019. The theme was: "Creole as Cultural Heritage: Framing, Strengthening and Advocating". It was held on Thursday 15 and Friday, 16 August, 2019 at the UWI Open Campus.

The event, which took place daily from 8:30 to 4:00 p.m., brought together researchers, policy makers, practitioners, leaders and students exploring Creole issues and the public to collaborate in an effort at building resiliency in Creole-speaking countries and indigenous communities. The Conference aimed at bringing issues of preservation and promotion of the intangible cultural heritage of Creole-speaking countries to the fore.

On Day One, the Conference focused on investigative work from researchers from Dominica, the French West Indies and Seychelles. On Day Two, the Conference concentrated on presentations from practitioners in various fields like education, performing arts, media and tourism, and explored both current practice and the vision that they have for the use of Dominica's Creole languages within their various fields. These interactive sessions encouraged members of the public to participate in the Working Group activities aimed at suggestions for documenting draft policy items.

Delivering the feature address at the opening ceremony, Dr. Cuffy said: "We seek to understand each other's representations of various creole dimensions and retain a common and unified paradigm for the work of our proposed network. The aim here is to develop a platform on which future representations of the creole culture can be strengthened and advanced as it continues to evolve from one era and/or generation to the next.

"We recognize that the creole cultural heritage is rich, alive and vibrant. However, we equally acknowledge its dynamism and it is one which continues to evolve over time. Thus, our focus, arrived at after much debate and negotiation among the organizing team, is not so much to preserve a dying tradition, but to embrace the core of who we are as a people in all its facets… It is this depth of appreciation and engagement that we seek to explore… this opulent and diverse creole heritage."

Earlier, Dr. Cuffy was awarded a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to fund the establishment of an International Creole Research Network. The conference, she hoped, would help share creole best practices currently employed by our sister creole nations such as Haiti, St. Lucia, Martinique, and Guadeloupe.