Our people should be aware that among the principal objectives of the Trust are: to advocate and promote the conservation of the natural and cultural heritage of the country in the terrestrial, marine, subterranean and submarine environment; to encourage research on cultural and natural resources of the country; to identify and document prehistoric, historic, archaeological and traditional objects, buildings, monuments and places of natural beauty including flora and fauna; to establish museums; to act in an advisory capacity to the Government of Saint Lucia; to build self-esteem and a love of country through the appreciation of the natural and cultural heritage of Saint Lucia.
These are a few all-embracing, powerful and demanding mandates of the Trust established in 1975 with the assent of the then Governor of Saint Lucia Sir Allen Lewis with powers in keeping with Section 5 of Act No 16.
Whereas we must congratulate the past and present managers of the Trust, our government (past and present) and members for keeping alive the objectives of the Trust we must ask ourselves, is the Trust receiving the support and funding to accomplish its Herculean objectives.
In the course of my recent visit to Saint Lucia, it became clear to me that there is the need for far greater support and involvement from all sectors of our community to fulfil its noble objectives as well as the necessary financial underpinnings to accomplish them. Founding members were clear in the formulation of these objectives, but for various reasons, we have fallen short in fulfiling some very important projections. The future plans up to 2020 are very well expressed by the present management of the Trust but without additional support and funding from government agencies, businesses and local communities we will continue to fall short in the achievement of our mandates.
Having examined our well defined needs, we should accelerate efforts in our approach to international agencies and friendly governments with well-defined proposals in keeping with our mutual interests. For example, there are agencies with a specific mandate to assist countries in the establishment of museums and the preservation of historical sites. There is an example of a Caribbean country which, in addition to establishing a central museum has established museums in different districts of that country with some funding from friendly supporters.
There is also a need for a vigorous research component to further define and uncover the yet unknown facets, realities and challenges facing the execution of the objectives of Trust for, one of its stated objectives is “to encourage research on cultural and national resources of the country.” There is therefore a role for enquiring minds and graduate studies in this arena. Further, the Trust must be the custodian of our national artifacts and arrangements put in place for the preservation of such objects in their rightful place. This can be achieved through appropriate initiatives and interventions as has been achieved in other countries.
We need to support the 2010-2020 vision/plans of the Trust firstly through local commitment while we explore targeted and directed external involvement and funding.
I congratulate the Trust for significant actions in the achievement of our general aims and objectives and wish our management further success in facing the challenges related to the execution of our obligations.
* Former: Senior Research Fellow, University of the West Indies; Senator, Government of Saint Lucia; Ambassador of Saint Lucia to the UN, OAS, and US; and Member of the Executive Board of UNESCO.
Patron and Founding member, National Research and Development Foundation