Cultural policy to protect vanishing heritage

| 11/01/2017 | 48 Comments
Cayman News Service

Traditional Caymanian home

(CNS): One of the driving forces behind the government’s push to adopt a formal cultural policy has been the increased community awareness that many of Cayman’s traditions, arts, crafts and heritage are disappearing. With the beginning of a public consultation period on a proposed policy document, government officials have pointed out that the country needs a formal policy to guide how it will fund, support and protect the culture and heritage that underpins the nation and makes Cayman what it is.

At a press conference Tuesday, ministry officials urged the community to read the policy documents and make their voices heard to ensure that government is heading in the right direction.

Acting Culture Minister Roy McTaggart, standing in for the premier who is still recovery from surgery, said the policy was about the principles and objectives that would help to foster, support, preserve and develop culture, as he urged people to engage in the consultation.

“We want to get it right,” he added.

From how government funds the protection of the dwindling built heritage and history, such as traditional Caymanian homes and important buildings like the Mission House, to the preservation of disappearing crafts like thatching, the government wants to strike a balance with the modernisation of the culture, which is not just about history.

Nancy Bernard, the deputy chief officer in the ministry that has responsibility for culture, explained that one of main reasons for the urgency in developing a policy, aside from the fact that there is an absence of any government policy on local culture, is to do with the massive changes the islands have witnessed in recent years.

The Cayman Islands is now number four in world for net migration, she noted and said the country needed to be sensitive to what it means to be Caymanian. She pointed out that some 40% of Caymanians have a shared heritage, as they may have been born here but their parents came from elsewhere.

But Bernard pointed out that the participation of multi-generational Caymanians was an important part of this consultation process.

Chief Officer Jenifer Ahearn told reporters at the briefing that the policy would provide greater opportunities to promote traditional heritage and to take a step back and identify what made Cayman what it is, so that in the haze of the rapid development in recent years, the people don’t lose touch or sight of that.

See full press briefing below and visit the ministry website to see the policy document and details about the consultation.

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Category: Politics

Comments (48)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The modern style of life and bizness here is really more like a CULT-ure

  2. Anonymous says:

    Someone mentioned fishing as part of our heritage/culture to which I agree whole-heartedly. Why then are there proposals that fishing be banned altogether on the Sister Islands? For a father not to be able to take his son fishing on Cayman Brac, from shore or otherwise, is unfathomable. Simple joys of life in peril.

  3. RMK says:

    This is where Government needs to utilize funds to protect and preserve our Caymanian heritage. Instead of wasting money on useless consultant reports costing over CI$200,000.00 that can be used to buy historical houses/property to show the upcoming generations. Also they should implement Caymanian Historical curriculum from primary school and continue through High School and Community College.

  4. Anonymous says:

    If this is to be an honest task, we should include the “ugly” history with the “good” because, although not necessarily proud tales, they are equally interesting in hindsight. We shouldn’t glaze over or re-write a cleansed version to sell to Disney when the survival version is more interesting and authentic.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Our culture and heritage, mostly the culture of having friendly people, surplus jobs, fairly high standard of living, fair weather conditions on most days, have enticed many many who now live here but unfortunately have nothing positive to say about us. Some have integrated well and we welcome them but the rest are just opportunists and will never change their ways. We also have a culture of many departing flights daily so those who are unhappy here should know what they can do. No one is forcing you to stay here and be put off or have to put up by/ with our heritage and culture. Our heritage of being laid back and allowing every tom dick and harry to insult us, push us aside and lord it over us is finally meeting its match, culture!!

    • ko-ko says:

      True, but then again we can’t discount the fact our own Caymanians sold us out long ago; that’s the elephant in the room.

      For the past 30 years, foreigners have come to our shores, observed how WE treat each other and made sense of our non-sense.

      Hence, they stick together for the most part where we fight each other down instead of helping each other. Fact is, the world is over-run with selfishness. People don’t give two hoots about anyone or anything outside of their own agenda.

      In Cayman that attitude is far too prevalent.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe your attitude is part of the problem..”some integrated well”…did you even bother to try and integrate with the expats or talk to them?

      • Anonymous says:

        We don’t have to integrate with you? I spent two years in the UK having every aspect of my speech and personality overhauled by classmates from all around the country for whom a bin was a BIN, and if it wasn’t a BIN rather than a trash can, I was not worth associating with. I spent a further two putting all of this unwanted cultural brainwashing to work, to no effect. The most notorious expats now in Northward have been heard to say appalling things about Caymanians, the Caribbean, everyone around them. “Black people food”? You think that person integrated with us before they found enough time here to end up in jail? You think they respected the population and the Queen’s Peace here enough to avoid their current predictaments? Face it: few enough of you come here that there aren’t many bad apples among the bunch. We all know those flying high where they live elsewhere don’t move here. You think this place is your passport to success? Earn it!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Cayman heritage should be preserved, the houses, the catboats, the twine makers, boat builders etc and there should be outings for tourists in catboats, twine making and so on…would be unique. Plus tours to “cultural cayman”. Everywhere else in the world has cultural places or villages…Cayman should too. And it may help the unemployment problem.

    • Heller says:

      Let us not forget the most crucial aspect; implementing this in the education system for ALL, private and public schools.

      In other words we should be teaching ALL our children, whether foreign or native how to build like us, fish like us etc. so as to embrace OUR heritage and culture as Caymanians have been doing for decades around the world with other Countries.

      Most children today don’t even know what direction NORTH is; but they do know how to operate an IPAD.


      • Anonymous says:

        And their favourite food is not turtle, conch or whelk but pizza, burgers or fried chicken from fast food outlets.

    • Good governance says:

      Thank you 11:38 am P. 7 of the draft speaks to your points:
      In the Cayman Islands, the need for a comprehensive Culture and Heritage Policy and Strategic Plan becomes even more crucial for these reasons:
      Reason 3. Several traditional industries and craft forms (i.e. boat building, thatch making) are now in danger of becoming obsolete. To safeguard against this, and to support existing and future practitioners and organisations, adequate fiscal, human and natural resources; as well as programming must be put into place to promulgate these activities;
      Reason 6. A major challenge is to provide empirical evidence that the creative economy has the potential to generate income and jobs through creative industries, which are among the most dynamic emerging sectors in world trade and human development;
      Reason 7. The value and impact of the economic potential of heritage and cultural tourism products is often underappreciated. This is important as tourism is one of the two main pillars of our economy. Yet, often heritage resources are misrepresented through uninformed interpretations at tourist venues, compromises the integrity and authenticity of heritage and cultural tourism products.

  7. Anonymous says:

    will this ministry work with immigration to curtail the number remaining here then by refusing work permits after certain period?

    will government still push for population of 100,000 which means at least 3/4 will be from Jamaica, based on estimate of current trend?

    will government then allow UK to send their natives to fill positions in all industries to create balance in population hence less dominance of one nationality?

    there is no way they are serious about protecting our culture and heritage if they can’t control the influence of jamaicans, similar to early Europeans who moved west and because they had population and aggressive people could fight and dominate

    • Anonymous says:

      Well said. If a business employs more than 35% of its expatriate workers from a foreign country then no more permits in relation to nationals from that country should be permitted. Diversity is critical to preserving Caymanian culture and heritage. Without it, all you are trying to achieve will fail. It is and always has been an immigration issue. What does the premier have to say?

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanians all came from Jamaica in the first place (apart from their few British masters)…what is your problem?

      • I think I can.... says:

        Not true @ 11:35am.

        Try again. In fact go WAY back, if your brain can manage.

      • Anonymous says:

        When Caymanians came from Jamaica it was in the 17,000’s and they were culturally largely British and African. They were not Jamaican.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is the real problem. True Caymanians have welcomed and interbred with persons from aggressive, testosterone, resentment, violence, neglect fueled countries from around the region and we now have 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation Caymanians whose parents beat and abuse the crap out of them and didn’t teach them anything. We have imported the poverty and barbarism of lesser countries around us. Their children set the culture in our schools, the standard employers have come to expect, and commit all the violent and illegal acts that discuss us. True Caymanians did NOT DO THESE THINGS. These people go to school with 10th generation Caymanians whose ancestors have been here long enough to own a few books and teach them how to get around in the world. But the aggression wins out. The compassion and kindness of the real Caymanian people has become harder and harder to see over time and if we are not careful will disappear altogether. True Caymanians are humble, yet proud of what they settled and built; educated without having an attitude about it; compassionate without allowing themselves to be taken advantage of, many possible contradictions to others that only make sense to other Caymanians. Those who don’t understand this…never will. Sorry, if your mom is from Honduras, you ain’t Caymanian no matter how long you attended John Gray.

  8. Anonymous says:

    of course @8:10 you’d want money spent on the future, talk about disrespect! Culture and history is by definition not the future but to truly represent the Cayman culture the focus MUST be on the past for the new people who come here and make it their home, raising children who should be learning this history since parents from other countries would already have knowledge of their culture.

    If the government doesn’t take a stand and realise that the real push is to push Cayman history in the past and away from the future and that will be the final nail in the coffin to destroy Cayman and turn it into Jamaica

    • Anonymous says:

      History and culture seems to give people reasons to keep hate and resentment alive.(read and note the feelings expressed above) Why not let people interact on the present. Looking backwards has not accomplished anything. Be proud of the past, why? You did not create it. We have to deal with the mess and division the past cultures have left us. Yet every culture champions its own past. Paints it with divine colors and yearns for what never was..

      • Anon says:

        Because you CANNOT just re-write history to your liking. That is by far the most treasonous thing I have ever heard!

      • Anonymous says:

        So why does your country not forget your past culture, hero’s or history? yet we should because we must be fools.

  9. WW says:

    Don’t forget to include slavery as it was once part of tradi

    • Anonymous says:

      Slavery was your culture we were the slaves

      • Anonymous says:

        Not according to the slave registers that used to be on display at East End Heritage day. “Free-men” were paid a notional pittance by first settlers – even those residing on the hallowed acreage of Pedro were indentured and reliant for their survival on the good graces of their land masters. #nopicnic

    • Good governance says:

      Yes – it is important for all aspects of our history to be reflected Page 22 (Values – the Spirit of the Policy) of the draft policy notes: Honouring the past – Respecting and honouring traditions, traditional knowledge systems and the diverse and often conflicted pasts, sometimes silenced, which still remain central to Cayman Islands’ identity.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Cayman tradition disappearing? Slavery is to be instilled as to avoid the diminishing Caymanian culture as it was once part of our tradition in history reinforced and influenced by the book of God. This nation is a “Christian” nation and would only be appropiate to reinstate the Christian values.

    Ephesians 6:5

    Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.

  11. Anonymous says:

    A big reason for any disappearing of our culture is the dominance of one national, Jamaican culture.

    We need to remind them that true & sincere integration is not forcing us to accept their culture, regardless of some similarities, but an embrace of what they found here and had to leave Jamaica for since the late 1960s. (Will they forget the colours of their flag or something, it’s everywhere)

    Caymanians also need to show more self respect and realise that other nationals, including Jamaicans, are not always impressed because you think wearing a belt with their colours, love Bob Marley music (even the most racist can’t avoid that), using their patois or claiming some distant relative of 6-7 generations came from Jamaica as a slave or white European, marrying a person from that country, and you know the other imitations.

    Bottom line: people in the protection of our culture and writing the policy should be native Caymanian not a few people who came here even 25-40 years ago but don’t see Cayman’s culture as anything worth protecting, that should have been goal number one, because isn’t the first objective to preserve and protect before pleasing others?

  12. Anonymous says:

    History is just that, please fund the future with education that could include Island culture and history but most important is the culture of the future and having young people who know not only where they came from but more importantly where they and their country needs to go. To much is spent on what was.Today is the transition from past to future was to is. Hold on to the passed and you might grab old votes, but you cannot grab the future. Spend the time and money on the future.

  13. Anonymous says:

    caymanian culture and heritage……. classic oxymoron

    • Mokes-for-all says:

      The last syllable may well describe you – there is a difference between heritage and culture. Perhaps you should educate yourself before commenting.

    • Good governance says:

      That is just an ignorant and divisive statement to make. We may have smaller/younger cultural heritage than other countries, however it is rich and beautiful nonetheless.

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