Protecting Our Heritage

Former Attorney General of Grenada, Rohan Phillip gave an interesting and timely presentation at the Annual General Meeting of Carriacou Historical Society held April 19, 2016 at the Museum’s conference room on Paterson Street.

Mr. Phillip provided an in-depth explanation of the three pieces of existing legislation dealing with the preservation and protection of the tri-island state’s natural, cultural and industrial heritage. Currently the only site on Carriacou that is officially protected by law, is at Grand Bay where the ongoing Carriacou Archaeological Project has unearthed a storehouse of Amerindian artifacts since 2003.

In response to this timely presentation a Heritage Committee was formed. Chaired by President Stephen Alexander, along with newly elected VP George McIntosh and Felix Mendes, this new sub-committee will investigate how the Society might take a more active role in preserving other historical and cultural sites that are not currently protected by law.

The idea of CHS holding a permanent seat on the executive council of the Grenada National Trust was put forward. GNT is the organization responsible for the listing of buildings and monuments of prehistoric, historic and architectural interest and places of natural beauty.

Mr. Phillip suggested that CHS might consider petitioning to have the museum itself (which is housed in a former cotton ginnery) listed as a protected site, but he pointed out the onerous responsibility that comes with such a designation. Once a site becomes listed, even if the ruins are located on private property, the law obliges the owner to provide perpetual maintenance, accessibility to the public, and protective enclosures, all at their own expense. It’s easy to see that the cost of undertaking such a noble venture may be prohibitive.

The precarious state of some sugar mills on Carriacou (which have recently been pilfered of their stone facings and robbed of the keystones which support the arches) and the disappearance of ruins on privately owned lands is of great concern. Should CHS be working to have these sites protected by law, or is there some way it can be accomplished through public awareness? Stiff fines and jail time were certainly meant to deter these crimes when the legislation was passed into law, but by highlighting the situation and informing people that there is no legal protection for many of our historic sites in place, could it have an adverse effect? These are just some of the challenges we face when we talk about protecting our heritage.

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