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Fourth Conference of the Dutch Caribbean Heritage Platform visits Saba

On May 7th, approximately sixty people arrived on Saba as part of the fourth conference of the Dutch Caribbean Heritage Platform (DCHP). The conference began on St. Maarten on Sunday May 5th and ended on Thursday May 9th, with the group having traveled to Sint Eustatius in the evening of May 7th.

The Dutch Caribbean Heritage Platform was founded on June 11th, 2014 and consists of 11 foundations from different islands concerned with the preservation of Cultural Heritage. DCHP organized this conference in cooperation with the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE), Nationaal Restauratiefonds, ErfgoedAcademie and representatives from organizations on the three islands, including the Culture Department of Public Entity Saba and Saba Heritage Center. The DCHP conference typically takes place every two years, geared towards those who are passionate about gaining knowledge on, or already work in, cultural heritage.

The theme for this year’s conference was Awareness, giving attendees the opportunity to experience the rich cultural heritage of Sint Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius, with options for an in person or online program, in order to engage with local heritage specialists, exchange knowledge and collaborate on sustainable solutions for the preservation of each islands’ heritage.

The visit to Saba included an introductory session at the Princess Juliana Sports Field, where Governor Jonathan Johnson greeted attendees, having been one of the original signatories for the establishment of the DCHP in 2014. Director of Saba Heritage Center, Sharifa Balfour, then invited participants to take part in the various tours.

For the morning session, participants were offered the opportunity to follow a historical walking tour of the Bottom or Windwardside. Another option included a full island bus tour and a historical hike, with a visit to the Hydroponics Farm. Sites visited included Sacred Heart Church, the Major Osmar Simmons Museum, The Spot, St. Paul's Conversion Church, the Harry L. Johnson Museum, the Saba Heritage Center and the Mas’Cohones trail. The topics focused on during these activities included the protection and preservation of natural, built and intangible heritage, architecture, spatial planning, as well as the assignment and safeguarding of monuments.

A panel discussion was then held at the Eugenius Center, with various topics arising such as the need for more cooperation between heritage and nature organizations, the importance of these networking sessions as expertise is limited on the islands, and the progress made via the Culture Department at PES.

One highlight was the handing over of a hard drive containing documents which were digitized, pertaining to the history of the SSS islands from a representative of the National Library of Aruba to Vito Charles, in his capacity as Treasurer of SABARC. These historical documents will give tremendous insights into the past, serving as repositories of the human experience and identity for those on the SSS islands, while bridging connections between generations.

Other organizations which assisted for the conference included Saba Tourist Bureau, Saba Lions Club, Body, Mind & Spirit - ASGS Foundation, Saba Splash, Saba Conservation Foundation and the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance.


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