The lack of financial support from government and the Ministry of Kalinago Affairs has been identified by Carib Chief, Charles Williams among reasons for rescheduling the first Indigenous Cultural Festival and cancellation of some planned activities.
Chief Williams accused government and Kalinago Affairs Minister, Cassius Darroux of not being supportive of the Festival at a press briefing on Thursday 30 July 2015 at the Prevost Cinemall in Roseau.
The Festival, which was initially scheduled for July has been rescheduled to 8-9 August 2015.
Chief Williams claims that the Festival was developed by him and was used as his campaign message for re-election as chief.
“When I got into office of Chief, I took it to the Council to endorse the program and from then on we started working on the program,” he explained.
Chief Williams stated that as early as December 2014 a letter communicating the intention to host the Festival was sent to the Ministry Kalinago Affairs and inviting them to attend planning meetings.
“The Minister did indicate that he was not receiving those messages, he did however participate in two of the meetings but the discussions that we had were not so encouraging,” Williams said.
“So this is where we are, we cannot say that they are with us on the program, because they have not indicated their willingness to support the program,” he continued.
The Chief noted however that Minister Darroux “said that he would support the program in words, but from a practical stand point we have not seen them come forward”.
But Minister Darroux told Dominica Vibes on Friday 31 July 2015, the Ministry of Kalinago Affairs is in “full support” of a cultural festival for the Kalinago people but the Chief must be transparent.
Minister Darroux informed that the Ministry was not part of the planning and was never informed about the Festival.
“In fact, in the Kalinago Territory there is an events planning committee, Chief bypass the events planning committee and went and form another committee for the festival. He even went further opening up his own account so that monies can be deposited into an account which he has bypassed from the Kalinago Council’s account,” Mr Darroux indicated.
Additionally, Mr Darroux said he had many concerns about how the monies collected for the festival would be spent as well as the safety of the persons participating in the Regatta.
Mr Darroux said he advised Chief to write to the Minister of National Security asking for the Coast Guard to provide assistance for the Regatta and to the Minister of Finance regarding funding.
“I told Chief I want to be part of the program but I am not going to be part of failure,” he said.
He noted that the Chief is hosting an event of such magnitude with little planning and a budget that is larger than that of the World Creole Music Festival.
“From the inception of this Festival Chief has been saying it is my festival, he personalized it to himself and those persons surrounding him and I am not prepared to facilitate anything to someone who is being selfish and dishonest to the Kalinago people,” Minister Darroux said.