SVG National Trust honours former trustee
FORMER TRUSTEE, Morrison Baisden honoured for dedicating 51 years to preserving the heritage and history of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
March 13, 2020

SVG National Trust honours former trustee

by Katherine Renton

THE NATIONAL Trust has ensured that former trustee, Morrison Baisden, goes down in history for dedicating 51 years to preserving the heritage and history of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

SOME OF THE persons in attendance at the Curator’s House in the Botanic Gardens, where Morrison Baisden was presented with an accolade of recognition and appreciation from the National Trust.

Last Friday a ceremony was held at the Curator’s House in the Botanic Gardens, and Baisden was presented with an accolade of recognition and appreciation from the National Trust.

Figures such as former Minister of Culture, René Baptiste, and current Minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture, Cecil Mckie, and members of the National Trust, past and present, were in attendance. A number of students and teachers also gave their support.

Their presence made true the words of Chairperson Descima Hamilton, who remarked, “Those of us who have a love for the natural history, built history, and other forms of heritage in St Vincent, at some point in time would have interacted with him (Baisden). I believe if not all, most of the schools in St Vincent, particularly the Secondary Schools would have at one point or another sought to have his services in terms of sharing his knowledge.”

Chief Forestry Officer Fitzgerald Providence enlightened the audience about details of the life and efforts of Baisden, who had an interest in history from a young age.

Providence informed that there was band of individuals who, led by the late Dr Ian Ayrton Earle Kirby formed the Archaeological and Historical Society of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“It’s good that we are now recognizing Mr Baisden here, because this building (the Curator’s House) holds a lot of history and lessons, so if the walls could speak they would tell you of a lot of the conversations that took place that were the lessons of learning about the archaeology and natural history of St Vincent and the Grenadines,” Providence noted.

Baisden was involved with many archaeological digs over his lifetime, including one as early as 1965, when, at Queensbury, near the bank of a small stream tributary to the Buccament river, he was involved in the unearthing of shards of Amerindian pottery.

Further, as Dr Kirby was a veterinarian by profession, and Baisden an agriculturist, the Society enlisted the help of archaeologists who came into the country and helped produce publications on the history.

The Society was later subsumed into the National Trust, and Baisden served the Trust for many years.

“Sitting on the Board of Trustees with Mr Baisden over the years has been a learning experience for me because we’ll be having some discussion and in the middle of it all Mr Baisden would just throw out this amazing historical fact and it was always just amazing to me how much Mr Baisden knows,” trustee Louise MitcheLl-Joseph recalled.

“Through his years with working with Dr Kirby, he would have acquired a lot of knowledge and a lot of information which he has preserved and passed on,” she informed.

The trustee also recalled how dedicated Baisden was. Using an example, she noted that when a dig was being conducted in Argyle to remove the petroglyphs there, Baisden was on site every day.

“He really gave of his time generously to everyone who was interested in archaeology and to the National Trust,” Mitchell- Joseph commented.

The former Minister of Culture also recalled Baisden’s dedication, in that when she requested to revive the National Trust, he gave her his support.

She admitted that they owe a “debt of gratitude” to persons like Baisden. “Were it not for persons like Mr Baisden with their persistence and their love of the country, wanting to pass on that history…,” she pondered.

“This is what you call love of country you know, finding your roots and wanting to know what those petroglyphs what they mean,” she stated.

“Remember today that this man had a love for his ancestors and he wrote it down and he will talk with you and he will speak with you. Remember him and his work with the National Trust and for St Vincent and the Grenadines,” she told the students.

Minister Cecil McKie dubbed Baisden a national treasure, and gem of SVG.

“In the 60s, when you wanted to find out anything about St Vincent and the Grenadines… anything…you checked either Doctor Kirby, or Mr Baisden,” he intoned.

In accepting the award, Baisden thanked the Trust for recognizing “the very small contribution I have made, while I had the honour to walk with you in the mountains, in the valleys, along the rivers, and in the sea shores.”

“I am happy to have been permitted to be among these fine Vincentians, Caribbean people, and their associates from outside the region, who have participated in various ways in remembering and recording the heritage of the peoples who, at one time or another, lived on our shores,” he stated.

He saluted Dr Kirby as one of the most outstanding persons he has spent time with, saying “I feel honoured to have known him and to have had the opportunity to have learnt much at his feet.”