The importance of chronicling and preserving Barbados??? history and cultural heritage was underscored last night by Acting Chief Information Officer (CIO), Sharon Lynch, during a special screening of the award-winning documentary ???Diggers???.

Ms. Lynch told her audience, including Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave, that the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) recognised the significance of the historic occasion when 100,000 West Indian labourers worked on the construction of the Panama Canal.

???We, therefore, see this first public screening in Barbados, which the BGIS is responsible for, as our contribution to the Panama Canal???s centennial celebrations, as Barbadians reconnect with their past and open new lines of communication with regard to their ancestry,??? she stated.

The Acting CIO pointed out that the centennial celebrations of the canal???s construction had sparked a renewed interest in Barbadians to trace their roots.?????Diggers??? chronicles the political, social and technological history of the forgotten 100,000 black labourers, including Barbadians and other Caribbean migrants, who worked on the construction of the Panama Canal from 1881 to 1914.

The labourers faced tremendous challenges during construction, including disease, discrimination, racism and horrendous working conditions.??The fruits of their labour changed the face of travel and trade in the modern world, allowing vessels to sail from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Among those attending the viewing at the Grande Salle of the Central Bank of Barbados were the film???s Director and Producer, Roman J. Foster; Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy; Speaker of the House, Michael Carrington; Central Bank Governor, Dr. Delisle Worrell; and other officials of government and the private sector.

???Diggers??? will premiere on Sunday, November 30, on CBC Channel 8, at 8:00 p.m.??The airing is being made possible through CBC TV 8, in association with the Barbados Government Information Service, The Travel House, Infinity Car Rentals and the Barbados Hospitality Institute???s Pom Marine Hotel.

Author: Andre Skeete/Sharon Austin

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