OECS discuss litigation + advocacy strategy on LGBT discrimination

OECS Litigation 1
In session at Flamboyant Hotel, Grand Anse, Grenada

Is litigation around the criminalisation and lack of recognition of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, currently possible in the countries of the eastern Caribbean? This was the main question under interrogation as lawyers joined activists representing the rights of LGBT people from September 21 – 23, 2015 in Grenada.

Addressing the very real stigma and discrimination faced by LGBT citizens is at the heart of the OECS Litigation and Advocacy Strategy Meeting, co-organised by United and Strong Inc., Saint Lucia and GrenCHAP, Grenada, with direction from Saint Lucian Attorney-at-Law Veronica Cenac.

“We must address the human rights of LGBT citizens in the OECS and we are on a path to full recognition of these human rights through litigation and advocacy,” says Janice Stephen, Vice-President of the Board of United and Strong. She says of the process, “It was a positive experience. The first two days were informative for me as an activist as it highlighted some of the contradictions in the constitution, and opportunities and barriers in the law. But it was not only about the law over these few days it’s clear that the LGBT community has individuals that can stand up for us.”

Janice Stephens, VP of United and Strong welcomes participants
Janice Stephens, VP of United and Strong welcomes

Participants have experience working in or with human rights-based organisations in countries that include Dominica, Antigua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and Barbados. They have, through their work, direct knowledge of the deleterious effects of criminalisation on adult same sex relationships and gender non-conforming people, and are well-placed to identify challenges and map the way forward. Also among the thirty-three participants were persons sharing experiences of litigation in Jamaica and Belize. Representatives of Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), Heartland Alliance, Arcus Foundation, Human Dignity Trust, Open Society Foundation and the Canadian HIV AIDS Legal Network brought a wealth of knowledge on, and resources for, litigation and advocacy within the Caribbean.

Damarlie Antoine GrenCHAP’s Director of Research states, “There’s no argument, not religious nor legal, that can justify the continuous discrimination and dehumanisation of OECS citizens including Grenadians based on gender identity or sexual orientation. It is due time for our governments to take a stand against the prejudice and discrimination meted out to our citizens based on gender and sexual orientation. Quiet diplomacy hasn’t worked and democracy has arguably regressed in the Caribbean, so now human rights have to be demanded through legal challenges”

GrenCHAP’s Damarlie Antoine on LGBT advocacy in Grenada

The discussions were anchored by Cenac, with over 17 years’ experience in related legal work and a long history of contribution to the movement. She said the discussions were “the beginning of a move among LGBT activists in the OECS and Barbados to demand the extension of basic human rights protections to them. There is no rational basis for the exclusion of citizens under Constitutions that seek to protect all citizens. Documented violence and abuse against LGBT persons or any other minority is unjustifiable in democratic societies founded on the rule of law and principles of human dignity.”

The three-day meeting is expected to be the beginning of a long process that includes extensive research and development, ultimately leading to legal protections from discrimination against same-gender loving and gender non-conforming citizens of the Eastern Caribbean and recognition of the human rights of all.

Media contacts:

Saint Lucia:
Veronica Cenac, Attorney-at-Law
Bennet Charles, Advocacy Officer, United and Strong Inc.
Phone: 1 758 518 4504 or 1 758 450 0976
Email: societyd@gmail.com

P. Damarlie Antoine, Director of Research, GrenCHAP
Phone: 1 473 459 7675
Email: damarlieantoine@gmail.com

We’ll Always Have Paris….

:: by Safiya Sawney ::

At the end of the 2015, within a large conference room in Paris-Le Bourget in the city of Paris, several thousand persons representing governments both large and small, developed and developing, from all nooks and crevices of the globe will huddle together separated by categories like “LDCs (least developed countries)”, “AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States)” “G77 & China”, “Umbrella Group” and themes like “loss and damage” “climate finance”, “adaptation” and “long-term emission standards”.

Politicians Debating Global Warming
‘Politicians Debating Global Warming’ by Isaac Cordal (Berlin, Germany)

Unbeknownst to some of you (perhaps most) these persons have been, for the last 20+ years, appointed to progressively decide your fate, as well as, the fate of the entire world. From tumultuous climate change COP (Conference of Parties) to tumultuous COP, from Bali, to Copenhagen, to Cancun, to Durban, these climate change negotiators, these deciders of our fate, have fought, screamed, quibbled, agreed, disagreed, shook hands, achieved consensus, forged compromise, going from Spartan to diplomat in a matter of seconds, almost in an elaborate territorial ritual one would expect in an immensely diverse natural ecosystem limited by space. All this – to save the world from the impending impacts of having too much of a good thing.

By 2020, there would be enough carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases baked into the upper layer of the Earth’s atmosphere to cause a rise in global temperature of 2+ degrees Celsius. With a residence time of up to approximately 200 years, any carbon dioxide that’s released right now, as you drive your car, or turn on your AC or charge your phone using an energy source derived of fossil fuels will stay in the Earth’s upper layer for a period roughly equivalent to three of your lifetimes. Its impacts won’t be felt by you, but by your great grandchildren.

Under a month ago, the tropical storm, Erika, silenced the Caribbean island of Dominica. Raging waters from the overflow of many, if not all, of Dominica’s 365 rivers unused to handling such large volumes of water from precipitation, all at once, cut through Dominica’s fragile infrastructure, carving through roads, demolishing homes and uprooting important telecommunication structures. As if wanting to show just how powerful she was, she resorted to wiping out whole families, all at once, without warning. The sudden presence of a rapidly flowing, destructible and non prejudice above-ground river produced by a temperature fed tropical depression should not come as a surprise to those entrusted to decide our fate. For in taking this long to agree on an effective enough strategy to phase out our dependence on fossil fuels and provide compensation and technical tools to adapt vulnerable societies to the projected impacts of global temperature rise, they’ve decided that small islands, for now, do not matter. Dominica is our present and our future as small islanders of the globe and West Indians. This is not a case of tropical depressions and hurricanes only now causing widespread destruction, as we all know that hurricane disasters have dotted our Caribbean history. It’s a case of this destructive natural phenomenon becoming much more intense and destructive as a result of the world’s manic and aggressive dependence on using fossil fuels to satisfy our ravishing energy needs. The impacts felt by the people of Dominica is directly due to carbon dioxide released by our industrialized neighbors from decades ago. This is the terrible trick of too much carbon dioxide. Its effects are maliciously delayed.

But you’ve seen it small islander. I don’t have to tell you about the coastlines that are falling into the ocean faster than we are accustomed to. Or the heavier than usual rainfall resulting in sporadic flooding and erosion, sometimes blocking your ability to get to work or get back home. You know that the drought that you feel now isn’t the same as it used to be. The grounds crack even deeper and the heat stays even longer. You know that the seasons are just as confused as you are as to why they aren’t on schedule and the fish, you know, wish they could tell you as you catch them and throw them into your wooden boat to earn an income, to keep them in the ocean just a little bit longer. Our corals are losing their ability to effectively maintain the fishing industry that your grandfather raised your family on and the crops they complain because they aren’t used to the pest and disease that comes with extreme weather conditions. This is your reality. Preservation is impossible without adaptation. Poverty will endure if solutions are not presented. Climate change is our future as small islanders and it is the responsibility of the deciders of our fate, these climate change negotiators, to realize that we will not be climate change refugees or continue to stand by as fellow Caribbean nations, such as Haiti, are forced into vulnerable & dependent economic situations.

Science says that we should avoid a scenario where global warming advances the 2-degree mark because the impacts will be too much to avoid or to reverse. For now, based on the unconditional policies and pledges made by international governments we are on pace to limit global warming to 2.9 – 3.1 degrees Celsius. Both policymakers and scientists agree that a 2 degree C limit is still “technically and economically feasible. Science has given us a deadline. If we are unable to successfully phase out our use of fossil fuels by 2100, then we will ultimately decide our fate as a species. Post 2100, the Earth will not be habitable for most of the species that exist now, including us.

And so, this is why in Paris these deciders of our fate, our climate change negotiators, will have no choice but to agree on a way for the world to avoid an early end. In fact, they are hoping that they can finally achieve the development of some sort of system that allows for equity between developing (those that are less industrialized) and developed countries (those who’ve already taken advantage of the economic benefits of industrializing), taking into account the dire need to maintain global economic and biological significance. The question of equity is where contention exists and why it has taken the deciders this long to finally respond to this “nifty” problem of saving the world.

The truth is time is no longer on our side. In Paris, whether the international framework that governs the management of global warming is legally binding or not, agreed to or not, the world will have to respond (individually or regionally) anyway. The world will need to adapt to the impacts that we will no doubt feel from past emissions and all countries – both developed and developing will need to transition their economies and societies to one that is climate resilient, low emission and sustainable. Vulnerable countries will all need to preserve their cultural, societal and economic survival, small islands included. We do not have a choice in this matter.

The concept of sustainable development came about in 1987 in response to the need to conserve the globe’s natural resources for future generations as matter of equity and of course, in support of the survival of our species. Working towards achieving an international framework that ensures climate change mitigation goes hand in hand with achieving sustainable development. One cannot exist without the other.

Indeed, for every one of those persons who will meet in Paris at the end of the year, and for us small islanders who have suffered the skewed wrath of climate change, there is only one thing on our minds – not that perhaps we will create one of the most historic pieces of international legislation in existence. No for us, it will be the termination of the territorial ritual. This drawn out dance of sorts will finally have an end and we can go back to regular life, drive our cars, turn on our ACs and charge our phones, hopefully within the context of the new and effective climate friendly policies we have toiled so hard to create leaving behind the destruction and tragedy of the Dominicas of our past, open to the hope that policy translates into implementation and implementation into sustainable change.

We can return home knowing that perhaps we can hang up our global warming coats and toss the climate change label into the non-recyclables box. We can perhaps sleep well knowing that the fate we’ve decided isn’t one that has derided the world of the disadvantaged and vulnerable. In fact, perhaps the fate that we decided in Paris in 2015 gave the vulnerable a fighting chance.

Make your voice heard, check out
UNDP Climate Change Storytelling Contest – Deadline 11th Oct 2015


Saf_BioSafiya Sawney is Policy Associate to Managing Director of Climate Analytics Inc. (New York). She provides policy and technical support on climate finance, climate strategies and readiness activities in the Caribbean. She has extensive experience in conservation and climate change policy initiatives for Caribbean SIDS.

Prior to Climate Analytics, Safiya worked on marine conservation and climate change policy in the Caribbean region. She was the deputy coordinator for the team that developed and executed the 2013 Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI) Summit of Business and Political Leaders in collaboration with the Government of Grenada, Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Unite and The Nature Conservancy. The CCI Summit raised over $50 million for marine conservation, helped to institute the regional Caribbean Biodiversity Fund financing mechanism and establish a regional CCI Secretariat in the island of Grenada (where she served as its first coordinator). Safiya also provides voluntary technical assistance and support to community conservation projects on the island of Grenada through her online conservation campaign Conservation Trekkers.

Safiya holds a Master of Public Administration degree in Environmental Science and Policy from the School of International and Public Administration at Columbia University and a Bachelors degree in Marine Science from Eckerd College. As an undergraduate, Safiya completed 4 National Science Foundation funded research projects on coral bleaching and water quality analysis and was inducted into the Sigma XI research society. Twitter @ConTrekk

Only 10 Days Left to Support Mt. Zion Library

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Make A Pledge Today!

After Grenada’s national library closed its doors in 2010, a group of concerned citizens got together to launch a community-run library, Mt. Zion Library on Melville St., St.George’s. In just two years, we’ve grown at a phenomenal rate (now with over 1,100 members!) but the charitable funds we depend on are scarce, which means that our project is now in jeopardy.

Your support will help us to continue to do holistic work with and for youth in literacy, education, creative and critical thinking skills. Our new schedule is a reflection of the range of programs we offer. See more of what Mt Zion Library and Resource Centre is up to on Facebook

We are developing approaches that are moving us toward sustainability but in this critical moment we need to raise £1,710 by the end of September to keep the Mt. Zion Library open. We’ve raised £570 so far, your pledge or simply sharing this with your friends & family can make all the difference!

RealGroundationLogo_TransparentGroundation Grenada is a social action collective which focuses on the use of creative media to assess the needs of our communities, raise consciousness and act to create positive radical growth. Our mission is to provide active safe spaces to incubate new modes of resistance, building from the local to affect regional and international solidarity and change. We pursue our mission online, through our website and social media, and also through live events and special projects in collaboration with local, regional and international artists, activists and institutions. Groundation Grenada’s website supports both local and diasporic voices, acting as an interface to connect people who are hungry for innovative change.

Reflections of a Camp G.L.O.W Grenada Director

:: by Ayisha John ::


Camp G.L.O.W. 2015 is all I can think about now that we are winding town to the final days of our online fundraising campaign and diligently pursuing the last bits of sponsorship we need from local business and organizations. In a few short weeks we will be welcoming a new group of Grenadian girls to this free annual weeklong sleep away camp.

Last year, because of your support, we were able to see 35 young girls successfully complete the camp. This year, we are hoping that you would once again lend your support to assist young Grenadian girls in realizing their true potential. Deadline to donate online is June 30th, less than a week.

I would like to share with you a few of my experiences from last year’s camp.

This time last year I had the pleasure of calling the lucky campers who were picked by the 2014 Camp Directors, Deserie John, Brigette Rizzo and I to attend Camp G.L.O.W. 2014. I must admit it wasn’t easy. I wanted to pick them all but with only 35 spaces we had to narrow it down. The joy I heard over the phone from these excited future campers was heartwarming. I got off each call with a huge smile on my face. I was already proud of each and everyone of these young women because they were willing to join us on this adventure, Camp G.L.O.W. (Girls Leading Our World).


I have to admit that on the first day of camp I was quite nervous. Would I be able to connect with them?Would they listen to me? Teenagers are not a demographic that I interact with on a regular basis. Other than having been one myself years (eons) ago, I’m not that versed in their ways. Even their vernacular is sometimes strange to me. But as the first bus pulled up and my campers started streaming out I knew it was going to be alright. I made sure that I hugged each and everyone of them so they knew it too. My girls!

One of the workshops we did was on HIV/STI and AIDS. To show the girls how AIDS is transmitted we played a game with balls of yarn. The girls had a scenario read to them and they passed the balls of yarn around as they “came in contact”(had unprotected sex) with the person with AIDS. The girls enjoyed the exercise and it brought home how easily AIDS is spread and everyone is at risk.

At night, after lights out, one of my favorite things to do was to visit each dorm room and chat with the girls. We talked about a lot of things and I answered loads of questions. The dark room gave the girls confidence to ask all sorts of questions that I answered to the best of my abilities and encouraged them to keep seeking the answers I couldn’t provide. I became a friend, teacher and confidant all in one. I was and still am humbled and honored by that experience.


The last hours of camp were the hardest. As we all realized our time together was quickly coming to an end the waterworks started. Saying goodbye to each camper brought a fresh set of tears for the both of us. These same girls that opened up to me and allowed me into their world where we laughed together, cried together, swam together, hiked together, learned together had left their prints. I was able to develop a relationship with almost all 35 young ladies.


After camp, my connection to the campers remained. At first it was daily calls from my former campers. I would see them out and about and it was always the same thing: A big shout “MS. AYISHA!!” and a big hug and the feeling has always been mutual. Nothing gives me more joy than to see one of my girls. Well except seeing a few of them together. The bond that these girls made with each other after just one week together makes me think we are doing something good. That in itself is a testament to the success of Camp G.L.O.W.

I’m so excited for Camp G.L.O.W. 2015. With your help I KNOW this year will be a success as well. Please visit our indiegogo page to see our video, and donate and share widely. Thank You!

Directors contact information:
Ayisha John: 533-2725
Avery Scott: 419-3020
Deserie John: 437-0911

Ayisha John Groundation Grenada Librarian

Ayisha Sylvester-John
Co-Director & Librarian

Ayisha is a native New Yorker who spent her childhood summers in Grenada, climbing trees for fruit and looking under river stones for crayfish with her many cousins, on her grandparents property in St. David’s. After a long hiatus she came back to Grenada on vacation, fell in love with the island all over again and moved here. Ayisha works as a customs clerk for North South Trading in Lance Aux Espine. She was also one of the Directors of Camp G.L.O.W (Girls Leading Our World) a Leadership and Empowerment camp for secondary school girls across Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. She is currently helping to establish The Mt Zion library to facilitate the needs of both the children and adults of St. Georges. Ayisha is also look forward to the day when Groundation Grenada has it’s own library to share her love of books with her fellow Grenadians.

A look at LGBTI rights in Grenada

We posted earlier on our Facebook page about the live radio discussion hosted by Real FM Grenada on LGBTI rights in Grenada. For those of us who could not for whatever reason listen in or call in, we’ve prepared a streamable audio version for you to listen to from all your devices. Groundation’s very own co-founder Mr. Richie Maitland has a featured interview towards the end of the programme. We recommend you give this a listen.



Download Mp3 (right click , then choose save as)


Where is the Outrage? – Tenuous Relations of Human Rights and Migration

:: By Angelique V. Nixon & Alissa Trotz ::

It seems we are at a breaking point with state treatment of Haitian migrants and persons of Haitian descent, particularly in the Dominican Republic and The Bahamas. Beyond the issue of people being rendered stateless, there are disturbing reports about abusive treatment and human rights violations in The Bahamas’ detention center, mass deportations from the Dominican Republic, and the separation of families in both places. Haitian migrants and their children remain some of the most vulnerable people, and this continues to be more evident in the recent changes to immigration enforcement policies in The Bahamas and Dominican Republic. These grave conditions for Haitian migrants and people of Haitian ancestry across the Caribbean bring starkly into focus the tenuous meaning of rights and who gets to access protection. Further, pervasive xenophobic attitudes towards certain migrants, and specifically anti-Haitian sentiment, remain an underlying yet clearly serious concern facing us as a region.


Photographer Unknown (tumblr)

In the opening months of this year, there were reports of possible lynchings of two Black men in the Dominican Republic. Videos also surfaced of the public humiliation and beating of a Black man and woman, which some have linked to anti-Haitian sentiment on the island (Reginald Dumas, On Being Haitian, Trinidad & Tobago Express, 10 & 11 March 2015).

Furthermore, reports from the Bahamas (end of 2014 into 2015) have raised serious concerns about the treatment of Haitian migrants and issues of citizenship. Specifically, these include: the rounding up of Haitian or Haitian descended children and persons (those undocumented as well as those seeking citizenship); the poor and inhumane conditions of the detention facility; reports of abuse by immigration officers; the content of the policy and reforms to immigration law; the deadly slow pace of resolving citizenship for persons who apply at age 18; and the targeting of Haitians in the enforcement of changes in immigration policy.

While some of these concerns are not new, the enforcement of the new immigration policy has been the source of recent concerns. In November 2014, the Ministry of Immigration in The Bahamas announced its new policy that calls for all non-citizens in the country to carry their passports and proof of residency, while children born to non-citizen parents must have a school permit. Since the enforcement of this policy, there have been reports of mass raids in known Haitian communities, and hundreds of people have been held in an overcrowded detention facility and then deported. This new policy has raised urgent questions about whether it will violate the rights of children – who technically by law are entitled to attend school (every child living in the Bahamas has a right to an education, and the country is also party to the Convention of the Rights of the Child). Children born to non-nationals are not automatically citizens but rather have to apply at 18 for status. While the Bahamas government has insisted that they won’t be “infringing on children’s rights,” official statements have emphasized that the Bahamas will be acting in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and that children will also be educated pending decisions on whether they are ‘repatriated’ (this is the terminology used by Bahamian state officials) or allowed to remain on the island.

But it’s unclear how the policy will be enforced and particularly what will happen to children unable to produce a student permit come September.

Bahamian lawyers and human rights groups have responded to this policy change and immigration enforcement in several ways. Fred Smith, President of the Grand Bahamas Human Rights Association (GBHRA), has led a campaign against the government and called on international human rights agencies to respond. He asserts that the “government’s mass round-up policy is unconstitutional and a flagrant violation of the fundamental concept that individuals are innocent until proven guilty.” Describing the government’s approach as “institutional terrorism, if by that term we mean an inhuman and degrading policy designed to strike fear in the hearts of an entire community,” Smith argues “they are breeding ‘Haitian hatred’, racism and discrimination. It seems The Bahamas is now into ethnic cleansing.” (Source)


Photograph by Tamara Sylvester

While the term ethnic cleansing may seem extreme to some, its use by Fred Smith draws attention to what he names as a ‘shock and awe’ policy. Rather than address immigration issues on a case-by-case basis, since November, migrants in the Bahamas have faced nighttime raids, separation of families, and overcrowding in the detention center. There are widespread reports of abusive treatment of migrants (of women migrants in particular) inside the detention center and during the process of “apprehension” and “deportation.” One incident that received major attention (with several articles in the Bahamas’ Tribune and Jamaica’s Gleaner) was the rape of a Jamaican detainee by a senior immigration officer, who was eventually put on leave.

This story has raised awareness about some of the issues at the detention center and with the horrific treatment of migrants, and in her case, she was held by immigration even though she had papers (spousal permit); she has brought charges against the state. (Source) The reports that haven’t received media attention are equally disturbing, as is the silence around what some describe as a targeting of people of Haitian descent and their children. Recently, a Bahamian-born woman of Haitian descent was denied maternal care in the hospital and her child denied access to school (Ava Turnquest, reporting in The Tribune, 12 & 28 April 2015). She has since filed for legal action over the immigration policy and violation of her and her child’s rights. (Source)

On 30th January, the New York Times published an article titled “Immigration Rules in Bahamas Sweep up Haitians,” which highlighted the stories of people being deported and children being deprived of status, while it also made some comparison to the rest of the region (glaringly missing, though, was any comparison to the United States’ policies on immigration and constant deportation of Haitians and ill treatment of migrants in detention centers around the country, a state of affairs described vividly by Edwidge Danticat in her 2007 book, Brother, I’m Dying).

The New York Times article provoked strong responses in Bahamian newspapers, including one that highlights the Minister of Immigration’s dismissal of the article as based on exaggerated claims and accusations from civic activists.

On 13th February 2015, however, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted a submission for precautionary measures filed by the Caribbean Institute for Human Rights (ICADH), the International Human Rights Clinic of the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, School of Law, and Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights on behalf of over 200 detainees being held at the Carmichael Road Detention Center in Nassau, The Bahamas. The Commission’s analysis concluded that the situation was serious and urgent and that measures were indeed necessary to protect persons from irreparable harm. And the Commission sent a list of requirements of response and action to the government of the Bahamas (Resolution 4/2015). (See the full text of the resolution here)

On 20th March 2015, representatives from The Bahamas government were asked directly about these issues and more during the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) hearing on the human rights situation of migrants in the Bahamas held. (All the hearings are available online and open access through the OAS website.) The petitioners (including Grand Bahamas Human Rights Association and the Caribbean Institute for Human Rights) presented their findings, which included reports of discrimination and ill treatment of persons being held in the detention center and rounded up in mass raids. They also discussed developments since enforcement of the new immigration policy, and how the government’s push to make amendments to immigration law after the implementation of new policy can been deemed unconstitutional. In their submission, petitioners also raised the issue of intimidation and threats to human rights defenders.

The Bahamas government was represented by the Minister of State in the Attorney General’s Ministry, who strongly refuted the petitioners’ report, defended Bahamas’ history of respect for human rights, insisted that the state has not violated human rights of migrant persons, and claimed that the detention facilities are in good order with provisions in place to charge officers who violated the rights of detainees. They also informed the Commission that the policy will now include the implementation of a “belonger’s permit” which would allow persons born in the Bahamas without status to stay in the country (i.e. children born in the Bahamas to non-nationals have the right to apply for citizenship at 18). They contested the notion that these children have a “right” to citizenship (since the Bahamas has Jus Sanguinis rules: citizenship is determined by having one or both parents who are citizens and not on birthplace), and they insisting that such children were not being denied the right to attend school; hence the new policy would not be violating any rights. The state also offered an invitation to the Commission for a country visit.

Not surprisingly, these two reports offered strikingly different understandings of what is happening on the ground to migrant persons and to people of Haitian descent in particular. Further, they disclose very different views on “rights” to citizenship, how this actually works in the Bahamas and who is targeted by these new policies and possible changes to immigration law. What is clear, regardless of the position of the Government of the Bahamas, is that migrant persons of Haitian descent are the most vulnerable and there are serious and urgent concerns about the detention center and how the policy is being enforced.

After the representatives of the Bahamian state presented their report, Tracy Robinson, Commissioner and country rapporteur for the Bahamas, specifically called for state response to the following concerns: official efforts to prevent violence against migrants; the granting of due process and interpreters for migrants being detained; issues at the detention center in terms of overcrowding and ill treatment; and access to the detention center for human rights defenders. Noting that “[t]he state has a duty to exercise due diligence to prevent the violence as well, not simply to prosecute it when it happens,” Robinson also raised important questions in relation to the standing of the new policy viz existing immigration law and how the Bahamian state would address concerns raised about violations of rights and citizenship.

In her concluding remarks, IACHR President Rose-Marie Antoine reprised the Commission’s concerns regarding the criminalizing of persons through this new immigration policy and the targeting of persons suspected of being non-nationals. She asked about the use of enforcement and exactly how the policy/law will be implemented and the use of detention for persons who do not have passports on them. The gender dimension of citizenship was also explicitly identified as bearing specifically on ways in which this new immigration policy/law would render persons “stateless” (a child born in the Bahamas with a Bahamian father is automatically granted citizenship, whereas if a Bahamian woman is married to a non-national, their child is not granted citizenship but rather has to “apply” at 18). The state was asked to respond to these issues and allegations in writing and in due course. The official Bahamian response was brief, noting that the overcrowding of the detention center was “situational,” insisting that the Bahamian Government does provide due process for migrants, and indicating that a written report that responded to the other queries would be forthcoming. (The hearing is available on the OAS website: here)

Meanwhile, following the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Tribunal Ruling 168-13 and change of citizenship policy in September 2013, in May 2014, the DR passed Law 169-14 that established “A special set of rules for persons born in the national territory who are irregularly registered in the Dominican Civil Registry, and rules about naturalization.” The regularization plan, originally giving people just 18 months to request Dominican citizenship for children born to undocumented migrants, came to an end in February and was extended for another 90 days (amidst opposition from the right) to 15th June 2015. The government has announced that no more extensions will be granted. When the final deadline is reached, it means that overnight thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent will be rendered without status or the right to stay in the country of their birth. This is widely regarded as a violation of rights to citizenship as birthright is stripped away from people who are most vulnerable (Haitian migrants, Haitian Dominicans, and their children). And with this policy change, the DR will be able to legally deport Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian ancestry – which they have already been doing for years – even as they depend on their labor and exploit their limbo/stateless status. The Dominican government has claimed that there would be no mass deportations and the approach will be on a case by case basis; in late May it was reported that the foreign affairs minister of Haiti (Lener Reneaud) met his counterpart from the Dominican Republic (Andrés Navarro), to finalise a “Protocol for deportations” (thanks to Arturo Victoriano for clarification and translation).

All this has happened in spite of CARICOM’s response and civil organizations’ protests and petitions. And the June 15 deadline looms, with barely any notice across the region and internationally (with the exception of the Huffington Post and independent media.

In 2013 and 2014, there was a lot more attention to the issue; several critiqued the ruling and offered context for understanding the tenuous history and relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic (for example, see Richard Andre’s interview with Junot Diaz and Edwidge Danticat in Americas Quarterly, and Myriam Chancy’s powerful reflection published and shared on several sites including CaribVoices, The Haitian Times, and Repeating Islands, among others.). The authors of this article have both written about these issues (including Angelique Nixon’s article titled, “Limbo Citizens or Stateless People?: Human Rights, Migration, and the Future for Dominicans of Haitian Ancestry“, carried on Groundation Grenada’s website, and Alissa Trotz in two columns for the Stabroek Newspaper in Guyana). Following a successful campaign by activists/academics/academic-activists in the region and diaspora, CARICOM denounced the ruling and also delayed the DR’s bid for entry into the regional organization.

As Myriam Chancy argues, the ruling creates and reinforces civic death for Dominicans of Haitian descent as well as Haitian migrants across the region (and for Haitian migrants around the region): “This issue of creating civic death is what we need to most be alarmed about in the face of increasing social and economic inequality, forced migration, and environmental challenges facing the region; we are living in uncertain and dangerous times. And while we don’t want to support or replicate neocolonial paradigms upon each other in the region, we must find ways to hold each other accountable for any violations of human rights; and I would further argue that we must find more ethical ways to deal with migration and rights across the region, especially for our Haitian brothers and sisters” (“Apartheid in the Americas: Are You Haitian?” 24 October 2013). Chancy’s poignant remarks resonate even more clearly in this moment.

The ruling and subsequent enforcement of change in citizenship status have been widely regarded as a political and humanitarian crisis in the DR. And with the recent abuses and mass roundups of Haitians in the Bahamas (a situation that CARICOM seems unable to find a response to, despite being in the country for its 26th Inter-Sessional meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government where an explicit commitment was made to the organization’s ongoing no business as usual policy with the DR), it seems the region is far from finding more ethical ways to deal with migration and citizenship rights. What is striking indeed, is the similarity not only in the rhetoric between the Bahamian and Dominican governments but also in the solutions being proposed.

While there has been some media attention to these issues across the region, and even some international reports, there has been a surprising silence and lack of outrage. Certainly, human rights violations around immigration and detention centers are far from new news. But there are several troubling questions that should prompt our concern, outrage and commitment to change. It is clear that people of Haitian descent continue to be targeted unjustly and overtly in new immigration policies as they are scapegoated as “the problem” underlying social ills in various contexts (as migrant communities so often are). It is also clear that women migrants in detention need serious and dire attention, as more reports of violations at the detention center in the Bahamas have surfaced in the past few months (from the case of the Jamaican woman who filed charges in April to most recently reported in the Tribune on 9th June, another immigration officer was suspended following an accusation and investigation of “inappropriate conduct.”)

With recovery efforts still underway in post earthquake Haiti, this assault on migrants and persons of Haitian ancestry urgently underscores just how much work there is left to do across our Caribbean. It is time to call out anti-Haitian sentiments and xenophobia that underpin much of the migration and citizenship issues in the region. It is time to forge and create responses that are regional in focus and promote solidarity and solutions grounded in social justice. It is time to find better ways of dealing with migration, citizenship, regional movement, and labor. And it is time to develop stronger and intersectional approaches to these issues that take into account class, gender and other differences and inequality.

We must keep visioning a just future – one with dignity and freedom for Haiti and Haitians all over the world, for all migrants who have similar experiences, for the Caribbean and all Caribbean people – in which we come together across our differences to create and build regional solidarity.

Angelique_Nixon_ProfileAngelique V. Nixon is a writer, artist, teacher, scholar, activist, and poet – born and raised in Nassau, The Bahamas. She is committed to the struggle for gender, racial, and sexual equality and movements for social justice. Angelique earned a Ph.D. in English specializing in Caribbean literature, postcolonial studies, and gender studies at the University of Florida, and she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Africana Studies at New York University. Her research and teaching areas include Caribbean studies, African diaspora literatures, feminist and postcolonial theories, gender and sexuality studies, and transnational migrations. Her research, cultural criticism, and poetry have been published widely. She works with a number of community-based organizations, including the grassroots healing collective Ayiti Resurrect working in Leogane, Haiti focusing on women’s empowerment, sustainability, education, and health. She is co-chair of the Caribbean IRN, which connects activists, researchers, and artists who do work on diverse genders and sexualities. Angelique is a Fulbright Scholar with the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.

AlissaTAlissa Trotz is Guyanese and lives in Toronto, where she teaches Caribbean Studies and Women and Gender Studies, at the University of Toronto. She is also Associate Faculty at the Dame Nita Barrow Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the Cave Hill Campus of The University of the West Indies. She has published essays on the gendered politics of neoliberalism, social reproduction and women’s activism; gender, coloniality and violence; women and transnational migration; and the state and the diaspora option in the Caribbean. She edits a weekly newspaper column, In the Diaspora, in the Stabroek News, a Guyanese independent newspaper, and is a member of Red Thread Women’s Organization in Guyana.

Winner’s Announced – Caribbean Film Project 2015

film proj winner blog pic2

We are excited to announce the winners our 2015 screenwriting competition, as part of the Caribbean Film Project.. We would like to thank everyone who entered – you gave our judges an enjoyable and challenging job.

We set pretty tough requirements for the scripts – they needed to be short, include several cultural elements (locations, food, and music from the country), engaging, and formatted and structured to industry standards.  Entries came from emerging writers and filmmakers from Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and many different parts of the Diaspora.  In the end, we selected the best three scripts of all we received.

And now the winners:

klieon john 2Klieon John

St. Kitts & Nevis

Logline: A timid young girl’s love for a dashing but seemingly nonchalant painter, drives her to desperation as she pays a visit to a shady obeah woman, whose real magic may not be supernatural at all.

Synopsis:  JENINE is madly in love with a strapping and pleasant young house painter named JEB. Too timid to actually approach him or otherwise gain his attention, she reluctantly resorts to visiting an obeah woman deep in the woods. She hopes BOSSO can help her by “tying” Jeb with a spell of some sort.

Not the friendliest person and cynical about men, who she describes as “swine,” she agrees to perform the tying ritual that should cause Jeb to fall madly in love with Jenine. “When we tie, we tie for life”, in her words.  Jenine has no idea what is involved with the ritual until she agrees to proceed. But her desire for Jeb is stronger than her disgust for severed chicken heads and bloody pig hearts.

By the next morning, she is confident the ritual has worked and walks by Jeb’s worksite, as she always does, and is greeted by him in the exact same manner he always has; with a warm smile and a “Good morning, Jen.” Either the obeah didn’t work or was never needed in the first place and Bosso might have known this all along. Perhaps her magic is nothing more than the power of confidence.

About Klieon.  Books. Dark beer. Red wine. Hot sun. Trees. Mountain climbing. Cool breeze. Full moons. Writing. Getting lost. Being found. Antiques. Nina Simone. Black coffee. Fresh mint. Vegetable gardens. String. Old movies. Good poetry. Bad poetry. Love. Photography. Art. Jazz. Reggae. History. Culture. Daydreaming. Nightdreaming. Short attention span. The Jolly Boys. Good food. Loud laughter. Cats. Dogs (sometimes). Crowded cafes. Indie. Hair. Bad jokes. Mistakes. Caribbean. Hippie. Hipster. 20s. Guitar. Filmmaking. Black. St. Kitts. Jamaica. Traffic. Sandalwood. Almond tea. Colours. Sand. Ray-Bans. Tattoos. Dub. Blank pages.

This random list of words makes more sense at www.klieonjohn.com.


karen chapman 2Karen Chapman
Diaspora – Canada
Love and Longing

Logline:  A young couple, divided by race, find each other again.

Synopsis:  Leslie and Thara are a secretive, young black and Indian couple living in Guyana.  In the midst of heightened racial politics and unrest, Leslie is migrating to Canada and tries to convince Thara to leave with him.  Will Leslie convince Thara to escape to Canada, abounding her family tradition for true love and a new life together?

About Karen.  Karen Chapman is an award-winning storyteller whose work often draws upon her own life experience.  In September 2013, Karen won Best Pitch at the CaribbeanTales Pitch Incubator held at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Karen is a 2015 fellow of the Hotdocs, documentary Channel Doc Accelerator Scholarship, where she is developing documentary films that examine rage, family secrets and life after violent trauma.  Her most recent short, PATRIARCHY is a véritéanimation hybrid and currently being broadcasted as part of the CBC’s Canadian Reflection Program.

kojo 2Kojo McPherson

Logline:  A man who seems to have everything finds himself searching for purpose and his sense of self when a touch of ‘the mystic’ (or mysticism) enters his life.

Synopsis:  Adero, a successful executive, finds himself experiencing many sleepless nights, with disruptive dreams.  On a visit to an old folks’ home, these dreams draw him to an elderly woman.  His dreams and visit with the old woman, begin to come together and Adero begins to understand himself and his place in the world.  Is it mysticism or reality?

About Kojo.  Kojo McPherson is a Guyanese writer, spoken word artist, photographer and director of radio, stage and short film.

Kojo served on the scriptwriting team of popular Guyanese radio serial drama for 4 ½ years – 2 ½ of those years supervising the team as Senior Scriptwriter.  He has written, directed and/or edited two short films, ‘Beached’ and ‘To the Night’, both of which have screened at international film festivals. A third short film, ‘Standing’ is currently in post-production.

Kojo is the sole-proprietor of Dred Scotsman, a business which provides creative writing, photography, videography and video production services and plans to expand in to production of original content.

Kojo is the proud father of two girls, Kinaya and Mapenzi with Guyana Prize winning playwright Mosa Telford.

We would like to thank our judges for the time they spent reading, discussing, and commenting on the scripts.

We would also like to thank all of our collaborating partners, Groundation GrenadaChantiMediaThe Audio Visual Association of Dominica, and SASOD Guyana.

Next Steps:

Each writer will paired with their writing coach and be given about 1 month to improve and revise their scripts, to make them ready for production.  Then they will all be invited to participate in a directing workshop, to preparation for the production.

One Love!!



About Caribbean Film Academy

Established in 2012 in Brooklyn, NY, The Caribbean Film Academy (CaFA), is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and support of Caribbean filmmaking and filmmakers, in the Region and the Diaspora. CaFA’s work is focused on promoting and sharing the art of storytelling through film from the unique perspective of the Caribbean. Website | Facebook


More Jobs But at What Cost?

:: by Kimalee Phillip :: 


Photo: Migrant Workers, 1935 by Granger 

In the April 17th issue of Now Grenada Mr. Lincoln Depradine’s wrote an article titled, “More Jobs in Canada for Grenadians” yet the article failed to address any concrete issues or strategies on what that actually means. Instead, it read as a running tally of Mr. Theodore Blaize’s many accolades. It is great that Mr. Blaize has accomplished so much while living in Canada but I think it is important to actually address what should have been the focus of the article – an interrogation into how current migration policies create precarious work environments for Grenadian people seeking work in Canada.

Mr. Blaize is suggesting that elected Grenadian officials work with the Canadian government to increase the number of seasonal farm workers and personal support worker positions available to Grenadians. That approach is therefore calling for more workers to be classified under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) and the Live-in Caregiver Program, both of which fall under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). TFWP is a government classification that the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), amongst other labour unions, and numerous community organizations have insisted needs to be reformed, whereas some have argued for complete dismantlement. The uproar about TFWP is because it promotes ongoing racist and discriminatory practices that target migrant workers. The TFWP specifically targets the recruitment of racialized people from the Global South, particularly Mexico, the Philippines and the Caribbean and once having arrived, these workers are denied many basic rights, pathways to permanent residency and citizenship regardless of the number of tireless years spent working in Canada.

It is important that I acknowledge the very real and distressful economic positions that many Grenadians are faced with, at home and abroad. Some may argue, “a job is a job” but that can’t be further from the truth; not when power and subjugation are involved. If a job was indeed just a job, many Canadians would be flocking to become seasonal agricultural workers, personal support workers and live-in caregivers but they’re not. They’re not flocking to these positions because workers in these positions experience alarming and disproportionate incidences of workplace violence, harassment, discrimination and intimidation. The systems of redress that would otherwise be afforded to a non-migrant worker are usually denied or granted in a piecemeal fashion, rendering any action taken virtually ineffective as a result.

It would also be remiss of me to not recognize the multiple violent and inequitable processes and systems that force people to desperately cross imperial borders, which are imaginary and imposed. It is because of these imaginary borders that some bodies are marked as “legal” and others as “illegal”. As a result of state-imposed wars, civil unrest, gender-based violence, homophobia and transphobia, dire poverty, environmental degradation and a lack of economic justice, many are pushed out of their home countries and forced to risk their lives, seeking better alternatives.

Samantha Ponting of Rankandfile.ca:

“It’s disgraceful that so many migrant workers are only welcomed into Canada as long as they are able to fulfill the precarious, often dangerous work Canadian employers assign them. Once a migrant worker is injured, our system discards them.”

According to 2013 data provided by the World Bank, Grenada owed $585,619,000 USD dollars in external debt. As of July 2013, Grenada’s debt had reached 100% of its national income. Current and past government have tried to address the magnitude of debt faced by the country and so the current economic state of Grenada is not so much due to mismanagement and lack of financial literacy but is also due to ongoing financial policies, free-trade agreements and political decisions that stagnate the possibilities of any real economic transformation. The current economic policies ensure Grenada’s dependence on other nations, slashes public services and supports the migration of citizens seeking better options elsewhere.

Blaize’s call for support is happening at a time when the Canadian state is increasing its efforts to not only reduce the number of migrant workers entering, but to also ensure that they remain in precarious economic positions. This move significantly impacts migrant workers’ ability to build whole, self-reliant lives in Canada and to support their families and communities abroad. The Canadian government recently introduced the “4 and 4” rule where all migrant workers in Canada in low-waged jobs and on Temporary Foreign Worker or Live-In Caregiver permits will be barred from working in the country for more than four years. This arbitrary and discriminatory policy will leave many migrant workers undocumented if they choose to stay, which ultimately affects them being able to reunite with their families abroad. This is in spite of many migrant workers having accessed the program and having worked in Canada on a long-term basis. These very workers who continue to help build Canada will now experience what is a mass deportation.

The main premise of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program is to use cheap, indentured and predominantly racialized labour to address shortfalls in the Canadian labour market. It is not based on principles of equality and fairness; in fact it reinforces global economic disparities that keep poor countries poor and wealthy countries wealthy. Further, these workers are usually at risk for experiencing injuries and other safety issues on the job. The safety and healthcare systems that are in place for many other non-migrant workers or immigrant workers in other sectors, is not afforded to temporary migrant workers in the same way.

Samantha Ponting: “Workers are sent back to their home countries with injuries that in many cases, leave the worker in a more precarious economic situation than when they arrived to Canada. Meanwhile, employers are held largely unaccountable for these injustices.”

The Canadian government claims that all workers under these programs will be treated fairly and with the same workplace safety standards afforded to Canadian workers but in actuality this is not the case. Migrant workers are treated differently and are of ten not afforded due processes when violations and workplace safety issues are flagged. The Workers Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) which provides compensation and support to workers injured on the job, is an employer-driven program which has seen millions of dollars in cuts and ineffective servicing to workers. Further, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), which provides free health care to those living in Ontario, is terminated every year on Dec. 15 for migrant workers.

“While migrant workers in Ontario are eligible for benefits under the WSIB, systemic barriers are preventing them from receiving adequate medical attention for workplace injuries. In many cases, injured migrant workers are repatriated before receiving healthcare treatment for their injuries.”

“Migrant workers are commonly discriminated against for medical reasons. In a study conducted by University of Toronto researcher Dr. Aaron Orkin, it was discovered that between 2001 and 2011, 787 migrant farm workers lost their jobs and were deported to their home countries for medical reasons, largely against their will, in a process called “medical repatriation.”

In three cases, 3 female workers were fired and deported because they became pregnant. While such cases may not always involve workplace-related injuries, the findings highlight how migrant workers have little access to justice under the Ontario Human Rights Code. This, in turn, affects migrant workers’ ability to seek justice through the WSIB system.”

       – RankandFile.ca “The WSIB’s austerity agenda: deporting injured migrant workers

For many of these workers, their jobs and status as workers in Canada are tied to one employer which significantly impacts their agency, and physical and employment mobility. In the case of live-in caregivers and personal support-workers, there have also been numerous cases of sexualized and racist violence from employers. This is, in part, due to the fact that live-in caregivers, for example, not only live with their employer but their employment and immigration status is also tied to that one employer. Due to a lack of permanent immigration status, economic dependence and the isolation of their work many of them are forced to withstand the abuse.

Justicia for Migrant Workers is a social justice organization based in Toronto, Vancouver and Mexico City that fights for the rights of migrant workers. Justicia notes the following in their Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program brief;

“It is also important to note that some migrant workers claim to have positive work experiences in Canada. However, in our numerous visits and outreach in migrant communities we repeatedly heard forceful phrases such as, “they treat us worse than animals!” Migrant workers, mostly from the Caribbean, make references to slavery in explaining their situation in Canada. Other prominent concerns we have heard from migrant workers include:

  • Working 12-15 hours without overtime or holiday pay
  • Denied necessary breaks
  • Use of dangerous chemicals/pesticides with no safety equipment/protection or training
  • Being crammed into substandard housing with leaking sewage and inadequate washrooms
  • Overt racism from townspeople sometimes resulting in physical altercations
  • Acute pay discrimination between migrant and non-migrant workforce
  • Unfair paycheck deductions such as EI and other services which they have little or no access to
  • Inadequate health attention and services
  • Exclusion from basic human rights legislation such as Health and Safety Legislation and most aspects of the Employment Standards Act
  • Prohibited from collective bargaining and joining unions
  • Inadequate representation in policy making and contract disputes
  • Unavailable to claim residency or obtain educational opportunities for children despite extensive years of work in Canada
  • Lack of appeal process when employers repatriate workers to home country
  • Depression
  • Barriers to essential services due to language and location
  • Lack of basic ESL training
  • Gender discrimination (i.e. few opportunities for female workers and women are heavily controlled and disciplined in various ways by employers)”

Many governments in the Global South are complicit in helping to facilitate and bolster many of these exploitative employment programs that treat people as mere commodities deserving to be disposed of once they’ve served their purpose. Are the agreements between states regarding these programs publicly accessible? What systems and processes are in place to protect the lives of these workers pre-departure, throughout their work tenure and post-departure?

The majority of people who make the difficult decision to leave their families, friends and communities to participate in these programs are usually struggling, working-class people who are unable to find adequate employment in their home countries. Once having arrived, many of these workers are prevented from obtaining permanent residency limiting the quality of life that they’re able to build. They are paid below the minimum wage afforded to non-migrant workers and sometimes experience unfair pay cuts for benefits that they may never be able to access such as Employment Insurance. This then reduces their capacities to send monies home to their families and communities.

In Grenada, we continue to witness the devastating impacts on our agricultural sector, a sector that in the past, has helped to boost our economic growth and sustainability. Canada’s agricultural sector is a multi-million dollar industry that continues to benefit from the low wages paid to migrant workers who could have been helping to build their agricultural sectors back at home. Our economic and political futures cannot be dependent on the forced displacement and dehumanization of our people.


Kimalee Phillip Groundation Grenada Editor & Project Coordinator Kimalee Phillip
Co-Director & Project Coordinator

Kimalee intentionally defines herself as an Afrikan woman born and raised in Grenada. The urgency of identifying with the continent is critical to her as she is sometimes witness to a continuous and in some cases, visceral attempt by Black [Afrikan] people to severe ties from the continent, many of whom she encountered while growing up in Grenada. Kimalee is an anti-colonial labour and community activist living and working in Toronto. She completed her Master’s degree in Legal Studies at Carleton University where she analyzed the colonial impacts on gender and violence against women in Grenada. She currently works as the Resource Coordinator with the York University Graduate Students’ Association and is also a Counselor with the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/ Multicultural Women Against Rape (TRCC/MWAR). Acknowledging the importance of labour solidarity and workers’ rights, she also serves as the Equity Officer with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, local 1281 and does organizing work with the Network for Pan-Afrikan Solidarity.Twitter @KimaleePhillip

Why I Travel the World Teaching Meditation (Next Stop Grenada!)

:: by Ilse Marel ::


I believe that inside everyone, there is purity, goodness and an amazing potential waiting to be discovered. Sometimes, we just need the right tools to get it out. My tool is meditation and that’s why I travel the world sharing this beautiful art with anyone who wants to learn.


Now, don’t take me as a Yogi or Guru because I’m not. I’m a regular person, who one day stumbled across Peace Revolution. This is a project by the World Peace Initiative, a non-profit organization that believes that individual self-development can act as a foundation of peace-building. At the moment, it seemed like an ordinary day, but little did I know that my life was about to experience a 360° turn.

Those days, I didn’t have much to do and I saw that Peace Revolution offers a free online meditation program. If you finish it, you can apply and win a fellowship in Thailand. This country had been my dream destination for years. Too good to be true… so I gave it a try.



Since the first time I meditated, I fell crazy in love with it. The initial benefits I experienced were relaxation and a sense of fulfillment that I had never felt before. As I continued, I started becoming more aware, more grounded, I started having clarity and focus. I learnt to love and accept myself. I started smiling more, I became kinder and more simple. All by sitting and doing nothing for 35 min. each day.

We get caught up with things that are happening around us, and we forget about the most important one: ourselves. Meditation is a reminder, to turn your gaze inward and find strength to live more fully.


I received a wonderful gift but I thought it would be selfish to keep it for myself. When one person discovers the truth and beauty that lie within them, the world automatically becomes a better place. I had to share this meditation thing with as many people as I could. I decided to turn it into a personal mission and became a Peace Revolution volunteer shortly after attending their fellowship.

That was the beginning of where I am today, 3 years later, and I couldn’t be happier. This week I will be in Grenada as part of a tour around Latin America and the Caribbean. I’ll be giving free workshops for all those who want to learn how to manage stress, being balance to their lives and find inner harmony. Groundation Grenada is co-hosting one of my sessions on Wednesday 25th March 5:30pm at the Youth Centre, Grand Anse. Let us know that you are coming on the facebook event page or just show up! See the full schedule of free workshops in Grenada below.  My dream is that we can all live in peace and this is my way of making it happen.


Free Public Meditation Workshops this Week in Grenada! 

Tues. 24th March 9:00am – Yoga & Meditation
Spice Harmony Yoga Studio, Calivigny, St. George

Tues. 24th March 6:30pm – Topic: Stress Management
Harford Village Community Center, St. Andrew

Wed. 25th March 5:30pm – Topic: How to find Inner Harmony & Balance
Youth Centre, Grand Anse, St. George

Thurs. 26th March 8:00am – Yoga & Meditation Topic: Stress Management
Sankalpa Yoga Studio, True Blue Bay Resort, St. George

ilseIlse Marel
Peace Coach Coordinator, Peace Revolution
Ilse Marel is a Life Coach, Blogger and Textile Designer. Her life changed radically after she discovered meditation, which is why she abandoned her career as a fashion designer and started to work in the field of personal development. She’s now on a mission of showing people how to live happy, peaceful and meaningful lives.

Revolution as a Sum of Parts – March 13th Reflection

:: by Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe ::

Angela Davis at Carnival during the Grenada Revolution by Kathy Sloane

Today marks a climax in a movement of young Grenadians that inspired thousands across the island and millions worldwide. Our revolution, which started on this day March 13th 1979 was not about one man, as incredible as Maurice Bishop was, the Grenada Revolution was a movement made & supported by many activists and everyday people (like the ones in this photo) who believed in their own ability to change their world. We cannot forget the countless Grenadians who decided that business as usual was not enough… our parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins, neigbours, godparents and siblings. Lone heroes make great symbols but movements are always made by collectives of people who, for at least a moment, come together for a common vision of change. The idea that huge social change relied solely on single exceptional individuals like Maurice Bishop, Julien Fédon, Walter Rodney, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Martin Luther King Jr etc. can freeze us into inaction. We might think that their shoes are too big to fill. We may think that we are not [fill in the blank] enough to make a change. But, we are not alone and neither were these visionaries.

In fact, an upcoming film currently fundraising on kickstarter called The House on CoCo Road by Damani Baker is about his mother, Fannie Haughton, who was an activist alongside Angela Davis. Fannie was so inspired by the Grenada Revolution during her 1982 visit with Angela that she moved with her kids to Grenada to accept a position in the Ministry of Education. Back this film if you can, or at least share the campaign with your networks because these intergenerational stories have to be told. Last year we screened an extended trailer of The House on CoCo Road for our Caribbean Short Film night during Phase N°1 of Forgetting is Not an Option our ongoing cultural memory project. This has taken the form of a series of events and collaborations inspired by the Grenada Revolution and it’s implications for the present. Last week we collaborated with the Grenada National Museum to launch Dr. Shalini Puri’s latest publication, The Grenada Revolution in the Caribbean Present: Operation Urgent Memory and we have more Forgetting is Not An Option events coming up before March is over!

What does your revolution sound like? We want to hear it. Join us at Tellin’s 2: Open Mic Jame Session this Saturday 14th March 6:30pm at  Everything Cool Bar in the Courtyard behind Digicel St. George’s, Grenada. All are welcome to this ‘pay what you can’ event. The Mt. Zion Library (right upstairs) will be holding special late hours until 8:00pm so that you can become one of almost 1000 free members or sign up to volunteer.

If you are free on Monday 16th March at 6:30pm join us for The inaugural March 13th lecture a collaboration between The Grenada Revolution Memorial Foundation and Groundation Grenada at The Trade Center Annex, Grand Anse.

Our final event of the month will be a meditation workshop in collaboration with Peace Revolution, a global project which sees individual self-development can act as a foundation of peace-building. Join us on Wednesday 25th March 6:30pm at the Youth Center, Grand Anse for a free meditation workshop. RSVP at hello@groundationgrenada.com

Forward Ever Backward Never!


DSC_6664Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe is Co-founder and Co-director of Groundation Grenada and C0-founder/Managing Instructor at Spice Harmony Yoga. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in Studio Art from Smith College (2008) where she was awarded a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellowship and worked in the education department at the Smith College Museum of Art. Malaika holds a Masters of Arts with Distinction from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine (2014), her research focused on cultural memory and the Grenada Revolution & U.S. ‘Intervasion’.  Malaika’s photographs and experimental short films have been exhibited internationally and regionally. Recent shows include:CaribbeanTales International Film Festival, Toronto, Canada (2013) Transforming Spaces, Nassau, Bahamas (2014),  Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (2014) and her work is currently on view as part of the Jamaica Biennial 2014 at the National Gallery of Jamaica. www.malaikabsl.com || twitter @malaikabsl || instagram @malaikabsl