Wyatt Bardouille’s award-winning film, Dominica: Charting a Future for Paradise, is a story about the nature island of Dominica. It is a story of vision and determination – about how this small Caribbean country overcomes the challenges of nature, limited resources and a stagnant population to sustain itself as an independent nation.
The native Kalinago people call Dominica Wai’tu kubuli – meaning ‘tall is her body’, because of the mountainous terrain. The island sits like an emerald jewel in the Caribbean Sea tucked between the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. From afar she appears mystical, small and seemingly inconsequential. Up close one finds an extremely fascinating island nation and its people. For a country of only 73,000 people, Dominica has had a varied and tumultuous history.
Dominica is a bountiful island with fertile soil and plenty of water and shelter. Its people are fiercely independent and since the days of Columbus they have fought to stay that way. In the last three decades Dominica has struggled to make its way as an independent nation. Many have left the island to pursue other opportunities in education and employment.
In 2008, Dominica celebrated 30 years of independence from Great Britain with a yearlong, nationwide reunion. Family reunions are typical; however a nationwide reunion is something extraordinary. Dominicans from around the world came back to the island to reunite and reconnect with their roots and culture. It was a time for celebration, for fun and festivities. It was also a time to reflect on past struggles and achievements. It was a time to think about aspirations and to share a vision of the future. It was an opportunity for local and visiting Dominicans to discuss how the country would survive in an increasingly globalized world.
Since independence, Dominicans continue to face many challenges. A lot of Dominicans continue to migrate, leaving the island’s population relatively stagnant. The agricultural industry based on banana exports is in decline and tourism is underdeveloped. There are limited higher education and employment opportunities and the island is dependent upon foreign aid and remittances from Dominicans abroad.
Dominica has made significant strides in providing basic education and health care for its people. The struggle for economic growth and stability continues. Those that came together during Reunion 2008 talked about what they can do to move the nation forward.
The island is unique in environmental resources and rugged in its nature. The people talked about revitalizing agriculture, becoming a niche eco-tourism destination and using renewable energy to become more sustainable. There are challenges that come with these objectives, which must be overcome.
Dominicans are a proud people, with a strong sense of identity. The film takes us on a journey of discovery that spans several decades and countries. The film captures the culture of a people, the festivities of the reunion, breathtaking island scenes and the nostalgia of those who have stayed abroad for too long.
a WYATT BARDOUILLE film
Documentary | 35 mins | Dominica | 2011 | NOT RATED – General