Grenada Tourism Authority Celebrates First UNESCO Inscription For Traditional Boat Building In Carriacou And Petite Martinique

PR – The Grenada Tourism Authority proudly announces the historic inscription of traditional boat building in Carriacou and Petite Martinique on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. This significant achievement recognizes the centuries-old tradition deeply rooted in the rich history and culture of the sister isles.

Traditional wooden boat building is not merely a craft but a profound cultural practice woven into the fabric of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. The communities, led by master shipwrights, meticulously pass down the skills and knowledge through oral instruction and hands-on learning. The process involves felling hand-selected trees during specific moon phases, a sacred ritual involving rum and water, and a traditional blessing upon completion.

The boat building practice promotes camaraderie, social ties, and strong community bonds. It serves as a unifying force, bringing together men, women, and children in celebration during various stages of construction and boat launches. These boats are not just vessels; they are essential means of transportation, communication and an integral part of the maritime cultural identity.

Secretary General for the Grenada National Commission for UNESCO states, “The ICH representative list is about ensuring better protection of important intangible cultural heritages worldwide and creating awareness of their significance. Therefore the inclusion of boat building on this prestigious list is a testament to its significance not only in Grenada but in the world, in fostering traditions, and preserving invaluable knowledge.”

Ms Petra Roach, CEO of the Grenada Tourism Authority, emphasizes, “Safeguarding Grenada’s local traditions and its intangible heritage, is just as crucial as erecting monuments or preserving tangible historic assets, especially in an era of globalization. In a world where cultural assimilation threatens identity, boat building is ingrained in the DNA of Carriacou, a vital community activity. Our commitment is unwavering in ensuring this cherished tradition thrives and is handed down seamlessly from generation to generation.” Ms Roach also commended the Chief Operating Officer of the Grenada tourism Authority, Mrs. Kirl Grant-Hoschtialek, “Who’s dedication and vision resulted in our first inscription.”

The Honourable Tevin Andrews, Minister of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs, echoes the sentiment, stating, “This UNESCO inscription acknowledges the significance of traditional boat building in our islands and the unique cultural richness of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. It opens doors for sustainable tourism, fostering awareness of our traditions and encouraging communities across Grenada to share and preserve their heritage. It not only safeguards our cultural identity but also promotes sustainable development and environmentally friendly practices.”

Over the years, the communities have actively engaged in safeguarding measures, including promoting boat building among the youth, community fundraisers and educational programs. The inscription encourages ongoing efforts to raise awareness, document the element, and ensure inter-generational transmission through educational initiatives.

Internationally, the inscription fosters dialogue with authorities on safeguarding living heritage and initiates connections with other boat building communities. It promotes sustainable development with wind-powered sails providing a carbon-neutral transportation option. Moreover, the attention garnered by this recognition contributes to the broader UNESCO mission of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage worldwide.

The Grenada Tourism Authority extends its gratitude to Dr. Angus Martin for his assiduous research, the communities and the practitioners who contributed immensely to the research, the GTA team based in Carriacou who collated the data and research throughout the application process and the stakeholders who actively participated in the nomination process, ensuring the continued celebration of this unique cultural practice for generations to come.