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Saint Lucia and Haiti Commemorate Jounen Kwéyòl in Taiwan

The Embassy of Saint Lucia in Taiwan concluded a week-long series of activities to mark the International Day of Creole Language and Culture. These were, for the first time, jointly hosted with the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti.

An exhibition on Saint Lucia and Haiti ran for the whole week with arts and crafts, products and images from the two countries as well as the portrayal of national heroes.

The week-long commemoration began with an online panel discussion exploring Creole and Indigenous languages, culture, and identity. The objective was to promote knowledge and understanding of Creole and attempt to explore cross-linkages with the indigenous languages and cultures of Taiwan.

The panel discussion was moderated by Monsignor Patrick “Paba” Anthony and included leading experts from both Haiti and Saint Lucia, including Professor Bello of Haiti’s Fondasyon Félicite and Professor Michel DeGraff, the Linguist and Philosopher from Akademi Kreyol and Ms. Lindy-Ann Alexander, of Saint Lucia’s Folk Research Center.

Joining the conversation from Taiwan were Ms. Afas Falah Deputy Minister of the Council of Indigenous Peoples, and Mr. Chung Kung-Chao, Deputy Minister, Hakka Affairs Council.

The former Governor-General of Saint Lucia Dame Pearlette Louisy, delivered the keynote address. A full recording of the discussion can be accessed here:

The International Creole Day itself, 28th October, was marked with an official ceremony at the Diplomatic Compound in Taipei.

In attendance Taiwan’s Minister Yiong Con-ziin for Hakka Affairs, and Deputy Minister Afas Falah of the Council of Indigenous Peoples Vice-Minister Alexander Tah-Ray Yui of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

Ambassador Roudy Stanley Penn of Haiti and Ambassador Edwin Laurent of Saint Lucia, welcomed participants and delivered opening remarks.

In his presentation, Ambassador Laurent marveled at the fact that the creole is spoken and understood by persons spread across such a vast geographic area, despite the absence of direct historical contact.

He said that Creole “is a remarkable and valuable global asset that must be treasured and nurtured as an intrinsic part of our diversity”.

He saluted Taiwan’s tremendous progress in the battle to save its indigenous languages, and said that Creole speakers looked forward to working with its relevant Ministries and experts.

Presentations by the Ministers followed in which they welcomed the initiative and provided assurances of their support and willingness to collaborate in the struggle to preserve creole and indigenous languages. The ceremony ended with a cultural performance featuring Saint Lucian, Haitian and Taiwanese artistes followed by a guided tour of the exhibition.

As part of the wider outreach during the week, the Embassy of Saint Lucia arranged for lectures to a combined group of faculty and students at the Chinese Culture University. The Ambassadors of Haiti and Saint Lucia presented their countries and explained the origins and nature of the creole language and culture. A recording of the presentation can be viewed here:

The final commemorative event was held on Saturday 30th October, as part of a Diplomacy celebration organized by the Yilan Sister Cities Cooperation of Yilan County, Taiwan.

Ambassador Laurent introduced Saint Lucia and his presentation was followed by a skit and musical performance in English, Kwéyòl, Chinese, and Taiwanese by Keril Victor, Cleisha-Bernise Springer, Malisia Evelyn and Handel Mathurin.

Also on Saturday, nationals in the southern city of Kaohsiung marked the day with creole-themed entertainment festivities of their own.

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