Symposium to explore indigenous peoples of Jamaica and Newfoundland

Cory Hurley cory.hurley@tc.tc
Published on November 5, 2013
Stephanie McKenzie of Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland poses with Col. Frank Lumsden from Charles Town, Jamaica. Lumsden is a guest speaker for Maroon and Mi'kmaq: An International Indigenous Exchange held in Corner Brook.

CORNER BROOK — The colonel of the Charles Town Maroons says building a relationship between indigenous populations worlds apart could prove mutually beneficial for all.

Col. James Lumsden is a guest speaker at the Maroon and Mi’kmaq: An International Indigenous Exchange being held in Corner Brook at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

He said the Maroons in Jamaica are working towards obtaining land rights claims similar to the First Nations people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“My coming here, perhaps in time, we could be a community of like-interests, so we could shine the collective spotlight on any one particular situation to foster change,” Lumsden said Monday afternoon prior to the start of the symposium that opened later Monday evening.

The “chief” spoke about Art as an Expression of Culture on Monday evening. He will again give a presentation tonight on the Windward Maroons: Then and Now.

Lumsden said there is a need to “rescue ourselves” from the dangers of profit over environmental issues in today’s society — if it is not already too late, he added.

“If we do not go back to the values of the past, the values of our ancestors, than you are going to have a long, hard journey into the future in search of values of the past,” he said.

Meanwhile, Stephanie McKenzie of Grenfell Campus and Lumsden first met on a hike to the Orangeville cocoa plantation ruins on Blue Mountains in Jamaica. She also attended the International Maroon Conference earlier this year. In Lumsden, she said she found a similar person as Chief Mi’sel Joe of the Conne River First Nation.

McKenzie believes there is a basis for significant learning in considering the indigenous issues in Jamaica and Newfoundland together.

“One of the incredible things I see, when I take a look at Jamaica and Newfoundland, is the extent to which the talent in the arts is so comparable,” she said. “Our island communities have fostered systems of barter, which make the arts considerably strong.

“I see the arts as the most sustainable and precious resource we have that is not environmentally damaging. If it were properly harnessed in both places, it has such potential for positive change and growth.”

The symposium continues this evening at Grenfell beginning at 7 p.m. in room AS2026. Afua Cooper of Dalhousie University and Chief Mi’sel Joe will also join Lumsden.