Historical photo of Salt Pickers in Grand Case, French St. Martin. (Photo courtesy SXM Heritage)
PHILIPSBURG–The Department of Culture of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) in collaboration with the St. Maarten National Commission for UNESCO will be hosting a Constitution Day Ecumenical Church Service and an official launch of the First National Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory of St. Maarten at the Anglican Church on Backstreet, on Constitution Day, Monday, October 14, starting at 9:00am.
After the service an Intangible Cultural Heritage Marketplace will be held adjacent to the church in the Old Street parking lot filled with local practitioners of intangible cultural heritage and vendors will display and sell their traditional arts, crafts, food and drink, natural remedies, products and more.
The theme of the event is “Culture Constitution: A Symbiotic Synergy for Country Excellence” and the First National Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory will be released under the awareness campaign “I Remember Intangible Cultural Heritage”.
The official launch ceremony will feature an address by caretaker Minister of ECYS Wycliffe Smith, performances by poet Tamara Groeneveldt and the Community Choir, and presentations by Department of Culture Head Clara Reyes and UNESCO Secretary General Marcellia Henry.
Charity Cantave of The Johnny Caker will offer a presentation entitled “Innovation of a Traditional Eats” and Mr. Plaisimond will share some information on the tradition of “Coal Keel.”
The campaign is designed to bring awareness of the “inherent wealth” attached to cultural traditions and practice. “This wealth, which can imbue its citizens with national pride and reverence for the legacy inherited from ancestors, can also be monetized to bring about economic wealth to the cultural sector,” the Department of Culture said.
In its 2030 agenda for sustainable development, UNESCO has identified culture as a key driver for sustainable development, creating decent work and economic growth. Furthermore, cultural heritage is one the sectors in the “Orange Economy”, also defined as the creative industries, providing valuable opportunities for Latin America and the Caribbean to foster new economic growth.
As per the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the purpose of the inventory is to identify and document the diverse elements of intangible cultural heritage that are present and practised in St. Maarten.
The establishment of such an inventory is considered a major step for the safeguarding of St. Maarten’s living heritage and aimed to contribute towards nominating an intangible cultural heritage element for the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.