The government minister responsible for culture in the Virgin Islands (VI) says he is pushing for VI culture to be included in the curriculum of all schools across the territory, as it is seen as one of several aspects needed to keep the heritage and culture alive and passed on to generations.
Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Sports, Fisheries and Agriculture Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) made that known at the Festival of Arts held in honour of cultural icon and legislator, the late Delores Lettsome-Christopher, at Queen Elizabeth II Park on Saturday November 2, 2019.
Task of new Director of Culture
Noting that a new Director of Culture is soon to be named, Dr Wheatley said one of the first things he will ask the new Director of Culture to do is to review the school curriculum, “and to review the school activities in combination with my abled, Chief Education Officer, to make sure that our culture, our heritage, and our traditions are being taught in our institutions.”
Anne A. Lennard currently holds the position of Deputy Director of Culture, appointed to the post since April of 2015 under the then National Democratic Party (NDP) administration and has also acted in the capacity of Director whenever required.
Virgin Islands culture is taught in the public secondary schools and some private schools also teach some aspects of it.
Hon Wheatley alluded to the need for culture in the schools’ curriculum while saluting the Heritage Dancers on their 40th anniversary. “And you see them have lots of young people involved. We have young people painting, young people dancing, young people doing all types of in the culinary arts, young people doing very well.”
Salute to the late Delores Christopher
At last Saturday’s cultural event, Dr Wheatley saluted the late Hon Lettsome-Christopher for running firmly with the territory’s cultural baton, along with a number of persons who were recognised during the ceremony.
“So we are honouring a number of persons today, and the reason we are honouring them is because we acknowledge that things did not just start today. We are only trying to run our leg of the race today. But for years and years past, we have persons, individuals who have been doing their part.”
Hon Wheatley also committed to making the event an annual one.
“We come from a small place in the world, but we punch above our weight, we have a big impact. And wherever we go in the world, people are amazed at what we have to offer. We have a special history. We have a special culture. We are proud people. We're an independent people. It is time for us to tell our story to the world. So we are going to be here. We're not going to let it fall. We are going to be here toiling, celebrating those who have walked before, who have built this foundation, and we will continue. I acknowledge other young people who are here who are continuing this tradition.”
He closed with showering gratitude to the family of the late Hon Lettsome-Christopher.
“Thank you for sharing Honourable Delores Christopher with us, for allowing us to experience her greatness, her passion. She was a Virgin Islander to the bone. She did not compromise. She was passionate, and I love her for that. She will always live in my heart, and I thank the family for allowing us to honour her in this way and for being so supportive.”