One would think that the location or even the inclement weather the day before would have kept members away but this was not the case as close to 100 members and 23 staff attended the 39th Annual General Meeting of the Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT). The meeting was held at the Belle Vue Human Resource Development Centre in Vieux Fort from 1 p.m.
In her opening remarks, Patron of the Trust, Her Excellency Dame Pearlette Louisy congratulated the members for attending the AGM and said that the journey to the venue provided an opportunity to get a better appreciation of our natural environment and a reminder to us all to preserve our heritage. Dame Pearlette also congratulated the Trust on all the work undertaken since the last AGM. She noted that the Trust has been doing a substantial amount of work in conserving our natural heritage and highlighted the organization’s work in climate change mitigation and adaptation in light of the ongoing climate change (COP21) negotiations taking place in Paris. As customary, Her Excellency issued a challenge to the Trust to increase its efforts in promoting our cultural heritage in 2016. She encouraged the Trust to explore creating a new revenue stream by exposing our locals and visitors more to the island’s culture.
Another agenda item was a presentation by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology, Mr. Sylvester Clauzel on the “Impact of Climate Change on our Natural and Built Heritage”. Subsequently, the outgoing Chairperson, Dr. Vasantha Chase in her presentation stated that, “This report is presented at a time when the Trust is undergoing considerable expansion. When complete, Walcott Place project will represent an investment of well over XCD$20 million and will create a world class product capable of transforming the cultural landscape of Saint Lucia, spur the regeneration of Castries generally and the Grass Street Community in particular; it will also constitute a significant addition to the local tourism product. The Married Women’s Quarters and Meadows Battery were vested in the Trust along with a charge to convert the property into a national museum. Government is also considering vesting a part of the River Doree Protected Landscape in the Trust. While this is good news and is a reflection of growing confidence in the Trust to deliver on challenges and commitments, it is also a time when members and Council must exercise greater guidance and oversight to ensure that the expansion does not jeopardize the organization meeting its core mandate.”
Based on the Western Chapter’s report the group was indeed productive during the year in review as they engaged in over 10 activities ranging from hosting Earth Day celebrations to participating in an invasive species eradication exercise on Gros Piton and a climate change consultation with the Caribbean Youth Environment Network.
When the time came for the elections of the Council to govern the affairs of the Trust a motion was moved to re-elect the outgoing Council and replace the sole person who is unable to continue as a Councillor. Therefore, the elected Councillors are; Dr. Vasantha Chase, Mr. Calixte George Jr., Mrs. Lisa Louis Philip, Ms. Simone Mondesir, Mr. Egbert Stevens, Mr. James Shingleton-Smith and the newly elected Council member is Mr. Keats Compton. The full complement of Council will be completed as soon as the Government and the Saint Lucia Archaeological and Historical Society name their respective representatives.
A presentation of Life Membership to the Trust was made to the Patron Dame Pearlette. Additionally, two staff received awards for longstanding service, they are Mr. Stanley Hilaire – 21 years of service as a part of the Grounds and Maintenance Crew and Ms. Esther Myers – 20 years of service in House Keeping. A special award compliments the Eastern Caribbean Marine Management Area Network (ECMMAN) Campaign was also presented to southern member, Mr. Vincent “Jeg” Clarke who was nominated as Saint Lucia’s conservation hero at the recently held ECMMAN Campaign Closing Ceremony in Dominica. The award was given to Mr. Clarke due to his integral involvement in the “This is who we are” campaign and SLNT activities.
After the substantive matters were dealt with, members were in for treat as there were numerous prizes from Sandals Grande Resorts and Spa, Coco Resort, Harris Paints Saint Lucia Limited, Jambe de Bois Restaurant, Sea Adventures Inc., Consolidated Foods Limited, Touch Therapies Day Spa, Diamond Botanical Garden and the “This is who we are” Campaign. The Trust is thankful to these benevolent corporate sponsors for their role in making the AGM successful. We also acknowledge the numerous local, regional and international sponsors and partners that continue to support our conservation efforts.