Small Islands Voice Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Palau workshop papers

Small Island Voice Youth Forum Proposals for 2003

Gillian Cambers and Claire Green 

Background 

A trial Youth Forum was conducted during the period September to December 2002.  Six islands were involved:  

Caribbean – St. Kitts, Nevis, Bequia (+ St. Lucia partially)
Indian Ocean – Seychelles  
Pacific Ocean – Palau and Cook Islands

The goals of this trial were:  

The first theme article and the responses to this theme are included in Annex 1.  All the themes and discussions can be seen at www.sivyouth.org with user name siv and password youth. The trial will be continuing until early December 2002.  

The goals of the Youth Forum have all been achieved:  

Assessments by the involved teachers and students have been received from Bequia and the Cook Islands. The following comment was made by Mr. Kim Lazenby of Nuketere College, Cook Islands:

‘I think that the more able and interested students benefited to some degree in that they were given a perspective on small island life from other children elsewhere in the world. Many of the children here have very limited dealings with the ‘outside world’ and then mainly only with Australia and New Zealand where most Cook Islanders emigrate to for work.  It was interesting for them to learn about the concerns of other island dwellers around the world and to realize that many of these issues were the same things, which they themselves had to contend with.  Also, geographically, it was interesting for our students to learn something about the location of these other islands in the forum and to discover something of another culture.’

The following comment was received from the students of Bequia Community High School who took part in the forum and the assessment:

‘We particularly like interacting with the people of different countries of the world, countries that until now that we knew nothing about. We have discovered a lot of similarities between the cultures of many Small Island States that are very distant from us, yet we still feel like neighbors.’  

The trial can be considered successful, and it has been renamed Stage 1.  Some suggestions for expanding the youth forum in 2003 are the inclusion of new islands, further discussions of the issues raised in Stage 1, and national fora with follow-up action on the ground.  These suggestions are further discussed below.  

Stage 2 Expanding the Geographical Coverage  

This will cover the period February to April 2003.  Six ‘new’ islands will be involved; the following are suggestions:  

Caribbean – Dominica, San Andres (and maybe St. Lucia)
Indian Ocean – Maldives
Pacific Ocean – to be identified  

The goals of Stage 2 are:  

Stage 3 National Youth Fora  

This will cover the period January - July 2003.  The islands, which took part in Stage 1, will be invited to take part, (although it is not necessarily envisaged that all will want to participate):  

Caribbean – St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts, Nevis
Indian Ocean – Seychelles
Pacific Ocean – Cook Islands, Palau

The goals of Stage 3 are:  

A mechanism may be built in to report back and discuss achievements and developments with other islands involved in Small Islands Voice youth activities.

Ideas for Future Stages

Islands involved in Stage 2 might then move into a stage 3 (national forum).  Workshop participants are invited to discuss these suggestions.

Annex I

Small Islands Voice Youth Forum
Theme article and responses on  ‘Disadvantages of living in a small island’

(DIS)ADVANTAGES OF LIVING IN A SMALL ISLAND  
Posted by: Form 3, Bequia Community High School, Date: Monday, 16 September 2002

Bequia is one of the most exquisitely enchanted and the largest of the Grenadines Islands. Bequia is well known for its warm tropical climate, white and sometimes golden sandy beaches, accompanied by our ravishing sapphire seas, which surround our beautiful and peaceful island. Bequia is located in the Windward Islands at 13º north, 60º west and nine miles south of mainland St. Vincent in the Caribbean Sea. Our island has a large percentage of lush vegetation mostly between the months of May and September, which are considered by our older folks as the rainy season. The people of Bequia, with our friendly, angelic and radiant smiles and behaviour can do a lot to encourage our tourists to relax and really enjoy their stay.

We are well known for our fishing boat races and whale catching which expresses our culture and it shows how the people of our island are innovative and very interested in their local festivals. One of the most participative festivals is the Easter Regatta. There are more advantages of living on Bequia. Some of which I will now list here. First of all with a very small population there is a lower percentage of violence. In Bequia the landscape is so small that it is almost impossible to get lost and everyone will be known to you. The fewer the people and houses being built, the more land there is to construct tourist attractions such as wildlife sanctuaries, tourists departments and local exhibitions, and also less deforestation taking place. People have turned away from the land and cultivation of peas, corn and cassava is not as popular with the younger generation as with their grand and great grand parents. Also with the coming of electricity, charcoal isn't burnt as often as it was in the past generations. In Bequia our small population means fewer mouths to feed, so that would increase the percentage of the marine life due to fewer fishermen. All these natural resources, kind-hearted people and our cultural packages are what help to attract tourists to our beautiful island.

There are also some disadvantages of living on a small island, but the biggest and most important one of all I think is the lack of jobs. More hotels, restaurants, fisheries, boutiques and supermarkets need to be built to provide more jobs. With our small population we are at a very high risk of contracting diseases and there might be a lot of incestuous relationships taking place. There is another disadvantage that often has our island appear to be corrupt, it is the fact that there always seems to be gossip from one person to another about someone else which sometimes isn’t really true. Another disadvantage is that we are not as highly developed as our neighbouring countries.

Due to our small amount of local export goods and the high prices of imported products from foreign countries, our finances are declining. The last disadvantage, which is considered a worry to us, is the fact that there are not enough opportunities for young people to expand themselves. When students finish their college and secondary education they can only be involved in the hotel industry, fishing industry or some just end up being taxi or mini bus drivers. These disadvantages should be looked into carefully by our surrounding communities and the government.

There are three major things that should be changed in Bequia, such as the health facilities. They should be cleaned at all times, rebuilt and have qualified doctors who can use new medical devices. All tools should be new and sterilized. Another thing that should be enforced is the introduction of garbage disposal rules, a new process such as recycling should be looked into. As an example, using broken glass bottles, mixed with sand and cement to make benches for schools, is what our school is currently doing. The last thing to be changed is a better and more organized police force and coast guard. One of the most important factors is that right now the big coast guard boats are on dock for repairs and there is only a little dingy boat for use. There should also be a stronger means of communication to locate lost boats.

Bequia can be whatever we want it to be; all we have to do is make progress in developing our island.

by: Tammy Williams, Trachia Simmmons, Ugo Davis
Form 3, The Bequia Community High School, Bequia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean.

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To kids there in Bequia  
Posted by: Jesse Mangham, Palau, Date: Thursday, 24 October 2002

Greetings from us here in Palau. We enjoyed reading your article about your island. We noticed some similarities about Bequia and Palau.  Palau is a slowly developing island in the western Pacific. The population is made up of about twenty thousand people: fifteen thousand locals/citizens and five thousand foreigners. The best part about this place is that it is a great tourist attraction. Our underwater world is fascinating. We think that the worst thing about Palau would probably be the pollution. We, high school students, both private and public, are doing our best to clean this place up. It's a great way to earn money for our school/class projects/activities. Well, we must quit for the time being. We will update you on some things on a later date. Later!!

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Response to Bequia  
Posted by: Lei and Po-po(palau), Date: Thursday, 24 October 2002

Well we totally understand what you're experiencing because we live on a small island too. We know that sometimes what people say totally gets you. But the best thing you can do is just ignore and do what you gotta do. Just let them talk the talk and you walk your walk.

We see that your losing touch of your traditional heritage well that's what we're experiencing too. We feel like development has totally influenced our daily lives. You’re not the only ones in fear of losing your inheritance.

Hospital-wise!!! Yup!! totally a scare!!!
The tools not being sanitized, what’s up with that? I mean what if you need to go through an operation and they use these tools and you end up getting infected. Whoa!!! Scary!!!! Well we gotta book 4 now. write back.

Lei & Po-po,

Signin' out.

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St. Kitts Response to Bequia  
Posted by: Verchilds High School - St. Kitts Date: Friday, 27 September 2002

Hi Bequians - (By the way, is it correct to say Bequians? What do you call People from Bequia?) We found your article quite interesting. It was fun reading about life on your island. As a matter of fact, just last term we were looking at photos of Bequia (and other Caribbean islands) on the internet for a geography assignment.

After reading your article we realised that Bequia and St. Kitts have certain things in common. However, there are also slight differences too. Before we get into that, here is a little information about St. Kitts.

St. Kitts is one of the two islands, which make up the twin island federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Our island is located in the Eastern Caribbean at 17 degrees 15 minutes north 62 degrees 40 minutes west. Over the years the island has been given the following names: "Liamigua" by its first inhabitants, the Caribs; "San Jorge" by Columbus; "St. Christopher" by the British; "The Mother Colony and the Cradle of the Caribbean" by the English and "Sugar City" because our reliance on the sugar industry over the years. All these names attest to the rich history and diverse culture of St. Kitts.

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Response to St. Kitts  
Posted by: Ugo Davis of Bequia Community High School. Date: Friday, 27 September 2002

The people of Bequia are called Bequians(beck-way-ans).

Yes, whaling is a dangerous thing to do because we use small fishing boats ant the traditional instruments such as the harpoon, and we have continued this tradition for over 150 years.

We do eat the whales, which we catch and no part of it is wasted including the bones which is used for making antiques and other forms of decoration. The whale blubber (fat) which was traditionally used as fuel and medication for influenza or common colds, and is still being used today but only as a medication. The meet is usually roasted, "doved" (cooked up in it's own blubber), "corned" (salted and dried for later use.)

Yes Bequia definitely does have the same political atmosphere as St. Kitts, for everyone is entitled to make their own decisions politically but this causes problems in homes, schools, business and friendships.

After the incident of the 9-11 our economy has suffered a decline in the tourist industry to our small island and also freezing of wages due to the drop of finance in our island.

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What makes us unique  
Posted by: Trachia Simmons of Bequia Community High School Date: Wednesday, 25 September 2002

Whaling
The Grenadines have been the hunting grounds of whalers since 1870s. From Scotland came William Thomas Wallace whose son, William Thomas Jr, introduce whaling to Bequia. Having worked on one of the New England whaling ships that came to the Caribbean chasing the humpback whales, Bill Wallace started his own shore whale fishery in the mid 1870s out of Friendship Bay. The Ollivierre followed suit in 1880 with fishery at Petit Nevis.  Every year from February to May after their boats have been blessed by the priests of the leading religions, the Bequia whalers go out to hunt whales. For the past years only one or two whales could be caught but now, four whales could be caught each year based on the Quota set by the I.W.C.

The whale meat was a staple food for the population in those days of relative poverty and before imports and deep freezers. Whale meat could be "doved" {cooked up in it's own blubber} to be eaten immediately, or packed in containers and preserved by a covering of it's own oil. Some was "corned-salted and dried for later use. The blubber was utilised for cooking oil and fuel in lamps.

When over at Petit Nevis which is often called "whale cay", the meat is chopped into portions and sold on local markets or given to friends and family. The buyers and viewers at "whale cay" usually spends the day at the island but some may travel back to Bequia by engine boat after a few hours. A whale caught in Bequia is a time of rejoicing for everyone.

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What makes us unique  
Posted by: Ugo Davis of Bequia Community High School. Date: Friday, 27 September 2002

Nine Mornings
Our community have been celebrating this festival from our ancestors to our young folks today and we are the only people who celebrate it. It started as a group of people singing hymns from the bible going from house to house and celebrating the festival of pre-Christmas season.(For nine mornings as early as 3 am people go for long quiet walks on the road in quiet meditation or singing Christmas songs as it is believed the three wise men did as they search for the Messiah.)
Today it is a largely a very festive occasion where both old and young people alike get involved.

Area and population-
St. Vincent and the Grenadines are made up of a chain of small islands. The Grenadines are made up of seven inhabited islands starting with Bequia is the largest Grenadine island with a population of 4,868 people from the census recorded in 1991,the actual size of the island is seven square miles. There are other islands such as Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau, Union Island, Palm Island, Petit St. Vincent including St. Vincent and other very small uninhabited islands all covering a area of 149.6 square miles and having a population altogether of 107,209 people.

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What makes us unique  
Posted by: Tammy Williams Bequia Community High School Date: Wednesday, 25 September 2002

OUR CARNIVAL FESTIVAL

Carnival in St. Vincent and the Grenadines dates back before 1920 when it was held at the Botanical Gardens. Carnival started out being a display of folk dances, maypole, boisbois and calypso. In the late fifties and early sixties, carnival was expanded into a beautiful pageant featuring historical bands which showed and described Roman Emperors, Incas, Greeks, Spaniards, Chinese and North American Indians. Costumes became more and more colourful and complicated to create.

Our carnival is of a great importance to us. The date has been changed to June/July to avoid us interfering with the carnival of Trinidad. Carnival is a time for people both young and old to enjoy themselves with the use of music and drinks. It's a time of competition, team-work and trust and friendship between people. But most of all, it's a time for fun; time to 'wine down Kingstown!'. It is an established fact that although carnival is celebrated regionally St. Vincent's festival is second only to Trinidad.

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Response to Bequia from Seychelles  
Posted by: Secondary Three , Anse Royale Secondary School, Seychelles Date: Tuesday, 24 September 2002

The article you wrote about Bequia is very interesting. Your island has a lot in common with the Seychelles. We are very small granitic and coralline islands in the Indian Ocean, therefore surrounded by sea and lovely snow-white beaches. Unlike the colour of the waters around your island, ours is turquoise.

One major similarity that we share is having an economy that depends largely on tourism. In the Seychelles as well there are several large hotels that are being built. Already we have several five star hotels and many, many smaller ones. Tourists do not only bring money to the islands. They also bring along different experiences and open the people of Seychelles to the world. The people here are very warm and welcoming, so it is very easy to meet and talk to foreigners. One thing about the Seychelles is that the media tends not to pry into people’s private lives. Hence, we have some very famous personalities coming to our islands.

We are used to foreigners anyway. One disadvantage of small islands as you mentioned is the size of the population. We do not think we have reached the stage where there might be incestuous relationships, but we do not have enough people to work. In our schools for example, there are many teachers of different nationalities.

One major disadvantage of living in the Seychelles is that we are so far away from most countries in the world. We hear about many things such as Disney World that children enjoy, but very few of us can go there because the closest one to us is in France and this is miles and miles away.

Now as much as we like traditions, we have to disagree with you when you say that you catch whales during your festivals. In Seychelles, we are very aware of our environment. We try to protect it as much as we can. Even if we are a tourist destination, the government has made it their duty to watch the impact it can have on our environment. We are developing what is called eco-tourism. Turtle meat was a delicacy at some stage in the past. We have never tasted it. The killing of turtles for its meat and shells has been banned. Whatever whales we have in our waters are protected rather than killed. We do not wish to offend, but we feel that such species should be protected. We should not destroy our natural environment just to keep up traditions.

We have our own festivals too. Ours celebrates our culture. We are just over two hundred years old. Our ancestors came from Europe, Africa and Asia. This makes us a real multi-cultural society and perhaps another advantage of being a Seychellois. We have three national languages and we only hear about the issue of races on television. So, we have what we call a “Creole Week”. During this festive week, we celebrate our traditions, which originate from the three continents, plus those that we have gathered in the most recent decades.

From what you have said, we feel quite close to the people of Bequia, although as we have mentioned so far away.

Prepared by Tyra Faure and Juliette Elizabeth

*****

Response to Seychelles  
Posted by: Ugo Davis , Trachia , Tammy and Rocquel of Bequia Community High School. Date: Tuesday, 8 October 2002

Greetings to the lovely people of Seychelles. While reading your article we discovered that your island is very similar to ours. We have to say that we've got quite a lot of famous persons visiting our Grenadine islands such as Queen Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret. Just over two weeks ago we had a visit from R and B singers Janet Jackson and Jermaine Depris(J.D.).

Our oldest tradition, which is over 150 years old, is whaling. We use the traditional hand harpoon and our fishing boats, which is more dangerous to our whalers than to the whales and marine life. We are only allowed by the International Whaling Committee to kill four whales per year. No part of the whale is wasted including the whalebone, which is used for decoration and antiques. The blubber is used to make oil, which was used as fuel long ago and is now used as medication.

We are looking forward to chatting with you sometime soon!

*****

Response to Bequia  
Posted by: Form 3L, Nukutere College, Rarotonga Date: Saturday, 21 September 2002

Briefly…
The Cook Islands are a group of 15 beautiful islands located in the South Pacific Ocean, ‘midway’ between New Zealand and Hawaii – our nearest neighbours are the Society Islands, the capital of which is Tahiti, approximately 8ookms to our East. This remoteness means that Rarotonga is a far more isolated island than Bequia and therefore we have our own unique set of disadvantages and advantages.

Rarotonga is a mountainous, lagoon-encircled island, 32 kilometres in circumference and with a population of approximately 10,000 people. Cook Island Maori is the main language of Cook Islanders but just about everybody speaks English as well.

Nukutere College is situated in Avarua, the capital of Rarotonga. Our island is the seat of government for all of the islands, which make up the Cooks.

ADVANTAGES

DISADVANTAGES:

CHANGES:

Contributors:
Gemma Hogg, Moana Brown, Sharon Kareroa,
Henry Kokaua, Rosalia Samuela,
Ina Davies, Barnabas Henry.

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Response to the Children of the Cook Islands  
Posted by: Trachia Simmons of Bequia Community High School Date: Wednesday, 25 September 2002

Greetings from the Bequia Community High School to the Students of the Cook Islands.
We are so happy to hear from you, and feel so close to you after reading about your Island, which seems so much to our own. We share a lot in common such as the same foods and some culture. We look forward to hearing from you again very soon.

Language

We speak a special kind of language that we call Caribbean English dialect, also known as "pigeon English". However we officially use English as our written and spoken language.

Population

Our last census results in 1990 showed that our population was over 5000. The official figures have not yet been released for the year 2000 but I think it will be just a little over 5500.

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