SVG Garifuna group hosts inaugural National Heroes Day

Members of the Brooklyn-based Garifuna Indigenous People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Inc.
Garifuna Indigenous People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines

With inordinate national pride and identity, the Brooklyn-based Garifuna Indigenous People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Incorporated (GIPSVG, Inc.) is hoping to tap into nostalgic celebrations by hosting, for the very first time, a grand National Heroes Day spectacle in Brooklyn.

GIPSVG, Inc. president Marsena Ballantyne told Caribbean Life, in an exclusive interview, that the inaugural event, on Sat., March 12, at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn, promises to be very exciting.

Ballantyne said the extravaganza, held in commemoration of National Heroes Day, “will take on the form of a cultural variety show and dance.”

“I’m very excited because this is the first time National Heroes Day is being commemorated in New York and, as descendants of Joseph Chatoyer [Carib Paramount Chief and St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ national hero], we are the ones hosting it,” she said.

“The event will place particular emphasis on celebrating Chatoyer’s legacy and the heritage handed down to us by him and our ancestors,” added Ballantyne, whose group is also celebrating its first anniversary.

“We hope to make this event an annual one in an effort to preserve the remnants of our Garifuna culture, promote a sense of pride among Vincentians, and the realization that our Garifuna heritage is a rich one — and it belongs to all of us,” she continued.

“We also hope that we will do justice in replicating our National Heroes Day Festival, which takes place every year in Fancy [the northern most village on mainland St. Vincent that is considered an integral part of the ‘Garifuna Country’]” Ballantyne said.

She said the event runs from 6 pm to 12:00 midnight, with a mini cultural exhibition for the first two hours.

Afterwards, Ballantyne said there will be cultural performances by, among others, GIPSVG Inc, Timna Lockhart, Afari Haywood, Chief Joseph Chatoyer Dance Company, the United Vincy Cultural Group of Brooklyn, Lively, Prim Adonna and Skarpyon.

Local delicacies — such as cassava bread (“chokee bam bam”), farine and dukuna — will also be on sale.

In addition, handicraft items — such as placemats, coasters and baskets — will be on display and on sale, and artists will conduct paintings, Ballantyne said.

She said proceeds raised at the event “will benefit the indigenous communities north of the Rabacca River [on mainland St. Vincent].”

For more information, contact Ballantyne at (347) 553-9545 or email at gipsv[email protected]

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