In the House of Assembly today [June 15], Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Patrice Minors highlighted the completion of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs’ annual Folklife Apprenticeship Programme.
The programme pairs tradition-bearers in various fields with an apprentice, to work one-on-one for a total of 80 hours spanning several months.
This year’s apprenticeships are woodcrafts and model boats with Milton Hill Sr.; weaving with Ronnie Chameau; storytelling with Florenz Webbe Maxwell; sustainable agriculture with Omari Dill; and St. David’s food ways and heritage with Rickilee Pitcher.
Ronnie Chameau’s Bermuda Palmetto Palm Doll that was created for the Diamond Jubilee:
“Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to share with my honourable colleagues that this Saturday June 16th, 2012 the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs will mark the successful completion of their annual Folklife Apprenticeship Programme”, said Minister Minors.
“Mr. Speaker, the Folklife Apprenticeship Programme is a unique programme now in its fourth year that typically pairs a total of five tradition-bearers in various fields with an apprentice, to work one-on-one for a total of 80 hours spanning several months.
“Previous apprenticeships include beekeeping with Randolph Furbert; folk medicine with Dr. Kuni Frith-Black; Azorean crochet with Geneveve Escolastica; quilting with Lynn Morrell; and sailmaking with Steven Hollis, just to name a few of the pairings.
“This year’s apprenticeships are woodcrafts and model boats with Milton Hill Sr.; weaving with Ronnie Chameau; storytelling with Florenz Webbe Maxwell; sustainable agriculture with Omari Dill; and St. David’s food ways and heritage with Rickilee Pitcher.
“The Folklife Apprenticeship Programme focuses on the concept of non-traditional, hands-on learning. Apprentices are given the opportunity to learn a new craft in the homes, studios and workspaces of master artisans.
“And as one of the conditions of the programme, the apprentice is required to give a workshop to a group of students, utilizing the concept of “each one, teach one”. It is a small way of “giving back” and planting the seed of further continuity.
“I am pleased to say that this programme is having a very real impact on the lives of the young people who have participated”, continued the Minister.
“In the four years since the programme’s inception, a Folk Medicine Society has arisen from the interest generated as a result of the apprenticeship with Dr. Frith-Black; one of chef Fred Ming’s apprentices has gone on to work as a chef at a local hotel, whereas another has chosen to incorporate childhood nutrition into her field of academic study as a result of what she learned.
“Ronnie Chameau’s apprentice Cherri DeSilva has taken up the mantle and regularly creates beautifully artistic banana and palmetto dolls for sale; Jenny Faries is an amateur beekeeper with hives at her home thanks to Randolph Furbert.
“Gavin Smith of Chewstick regularly incorporates performance skills that he learned during his music apprenticeship with Stan “Lord Necktie” Seymour; and Quincy Burgess is now living in Kenya, applying some of what he learned about sustainable agriculture in his 100-hour internship with Tom Wadson.
“Mr. Speaker, these kinds of programmes are an investment in our most precious natural resource – our people. The passing on of our intangible cultural heritage helps to build and strengthen our island home by developing an appreciation for who we are as Bermudians.
“Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the tradition-bearers who have been so generous in sharing their time and expertise; since without their willingness to “pass the torch” to the next generation, our heritage would run the risk of being lost”, concluded Minister Minors.
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