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One-Day Symposium Launches The Centre For Reparation Research At The UWI

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The University of the West Indies (UWI) announces the official launch of the recently established Centre for Reparation Research (CRR), the first of its kind in the academy. The launch event will be held at The UWI Mona Visitors’ Lodge & Conference Centre, Jamaica on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 starting at 5:30 p.m. It will feature keynote speaker, Ms. Samia Nkrumah, daughter of the late President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah. Several leaders of national reparation committees from across the CARICOM region are expected to be in attendance.

The launch will be followed by an exhibition of art and artifacts from the slavery era and an all-day symposium on October 11 at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge & Conference Centre.  Titled “Post-Independence Cross Roads: Economic Growth, Sustainable Societies and Reparatory Justice”, this symposium will interrogate key issues such as—Who should clean up the colonial mess left at the time of independence? Can there be sustainable development of the Caribbean without reparatory justice and what historical lessons can we draw from the widespread destruction of some Caribbean islands by the recent hurricanes? The discourse, which runs from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. encompasses a lineup of notable speakers including The UWI Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles; Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. The Hon. Ralph Gonsalves; Programme Manager, Culture & Community Development at CARICOM Secretariat, Dr. Hilary Brown as well as Professors Verene Shepherd, Horace Campbell, Carolyn Cooper, Opal Palmer Adisa, and Brian Meeks; Dr. Julius Garvey; Dr. Michael Witter; Dr. Joyce Hope Scott; Sister Nanny; Ras Ika; Emprezz Golding, and others.

The symposium is open to the public and free of charge to local particpants. To register, call 876-970-2646, email info@reparationresearch.org or visit www.reparationresearch.org/event/all-day-symposium/.

According to Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, “This conference is informed by the question: Can the Caribbean achieve economic development without reparatory justice? The economics of reparation will take centre stage in a requiem mass to Irma-Maria, as the region intensifies its call for reparation as a development plan. Heads of governments, constituted as CARICOM, have written to those European states enriched by Caribbean slavery, calling for an international summit to discuss reparations as a Marshall Plan, but responses have been muted. On October 10, we will launch the Caribbean Centre for Reparation Research in order to professionally prepare the evidentiary basis of the claim.”

The creation of the CRR is in fact a direct response to CARICOM’s mandate to The UWI—at its 34th Meeting of Heads of Government in July 2013—to collaborate with other Caribbean universities to establish the research institute as a vehicle for research and public advocacy. Commenting on the role of the Centre, Director of the CRR, Professor Verene Shepherd said, “The Centre for Reparation Research will support the CARICOM Reparatory Justice Movement, build awareness and conduct research which will advance the claim to Europeans for reparation for native genocide, African enslavement, deceptive indenture, colonialism and its legacies. The CRR will primarily be motivated by two other interlocking objectives: to broadly foster awareness around the lasting and adverse consequences of colonialism in the Caribbean, and offer practical solutions to halting and reversing them, in collaboration with advocates from grassroots to governments.”

On October 12, Vice-Chancellor Beckles and Professor Shepherd will host a press conference, beginning at 11:00 a.m. at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge & Conference Centre. On this day, traditionally noted as “Columbus Day” and celebrated as a National Day in Spain, there will be a declaration in solidarity with the indigenous people of the Caribbean region who, beginning on October 12, 1492, were subjected to a protracted campaign of genocide initiated by Spain. In reality, for the native peoples of the Caribbean, it is viewed as Holocaust and Reparation Day.

Interestingly, in Trinidad and Tobago, October 13 will also be celebrated as a one-off national holiday in recognition of the First Peoples of the islands.