On Saturday May 25, 2019, 10 students and 3 teachers visited Dominica from Precheur, Martinique via a gommier fabricated traditional Kalinago pirogue.
The Belle Etoile Middle School in Martinique participated in a cultural and educational exchange including accomplishing a feat by crossing the channel in a traditional kalinago canoe. The group arrived at Scotts Head after 5 hours of navigation.
This initiative sought to create awareness among students about the cultural and historical linkages among Caribbean islands as established by the Kalinago during their numerous channel crossings along the island chain.
On this trip, students visited the Kalinago Territory, where they got an appreciation for the Kalinago culture and participated in various craft workshops such as laouma reed basket weaving, cassava flour making, traditional dance and calabash painting. Students also visited the North East Comprehensive School where they participated in a Creole/ English language exchange.
The group was led by Mrs. Mauriol Annie-Claude, History and Geography teacher at the Belle Etoile Middle School. She was committed to this educational project and allocated a lot of quality time and effort to make this a success. Odile Pierre Charles, principal of the school said “students had two years of training and although there were doubts, disappointments and fear, hard work and great support from parents took down all the obstacles.”
The canoe used on the journey was built by the club ‘Gum & Tradition’ in Lamentin, Martinique and the visit was facilitated by Dominica’s Honorary Consul based in Martinique and Discover Dominica Authority.