Event Date: June 30, 2007
Posted: July 07, 2007
Mr. Ken St. Louis is a seventy-seven year old elder from the village of Carenage and has a lot to share about his experiences there. His contributions toward the development of this community started from very young, and he is now a highly respected elder in the village. Mr. St. Louis, affectionately called by the villagers, 'Uncle Ken', is still a very active member of the community although many of his former responsibilities are in the hands of the younger ones in the village.
|Mr. Ken St. Louis with one of his Fancy Sailor headpieces|| |
Mr. St. Louis is also a recipient of many trophies and awards including the Humming Bird Silver Medal for outstanding Community Service. However, his work does not end there as he is also popularly known for his cultural activism in and around his community including his involvement in the annual St. Peter's Day Festival.
On Saturday 30th June, 2007, the eve of the St. Peter's Day Festival, Mr. St. Louis chatted with Triniview.com about the festival as well as some of his personal experiences.
TRINIVIEW.COM: How did you get involved and how long have you been involved with the St. Peter's Day Festival?
MR. KEN ST. LOUIS: I have been involved with the St. Peter's Day Celebration since 1968. My involvement actually came about through the people of Carenage. They invited me to assist in the activities for the village. When they saw the activeness I have in me, they decided that I should take hold of every little avenue in the village.
TRINIVIEW.COM: What is the St. Peter's Day Festival all about?
MR. KEN ST. LOUIS: It is a seven day festival honoring the patron saint of the fisherman, St. Peter. He was the head of all fishermen. We have a statue of him close to the sea right here in the Carenage area. St. Peter's Day is a day you go to church to celebrate the feast of St. Peter. It is an annual celebration in remembrance of him. His birthday is on 29th June and according to how it falls in the month, the festival will be held on the Sunday.
The day starts with a church service followed by a procession. The procession goes down to Chaguaramas where they will board a boat to go out at sea to witness the blessings of the fishermen and their boats.
The week before the actual St. Peter's Day Festival, there are other celebrations which take place along the main road from Point Cumana all the way down to the Carenage area.
TRINIVIEW.COM: You seem to have a lot of experience with the St. Peters Day Festival. What was it like back in the early days?
MR. KEN ST. LOUIS: In those early days, I was a young boy. I grew up with my mother and my father in the village here. I observed that it was a day of fasting. People from all over Trinidad and Tobago would get together in villages that are close to the seafront. They have services all over Trinidad. Whether you are a Roman Catholic or not, it is for everybody. St. Peter was a Roman Catholic; therefore the Catholics are the ones who carry on the whole ceremony.
The blessing of the fishermen and their boats on St. Peter's Day is tied to the history of the patron saint of the fisherman, St. Peter. That day comes as the fishermen's day and they celebrate it in commemoration of Saint Peter.
Because there are different denominations in the country, the celebrations would not be appreciated by everyone. Those who want to get away from around the time the festival is taking place would go down the islands or other places until the festival comes to an end.
TRINIVIEW.COM: What is one of the main activities in this festival?
MR. KEN ST. LOUIS: A fish broth competition among the fishermen.
TRINIVIEW.COM: St. Peters Day is a very big event now. How long did it take to reach what it is today?
MR. KEN ST. LOUIS: In this village, I am one of the people responsible for what the festival is today. I started being active in this village from since I was a young boy still in school and an acolyte in the church. Back then, I was active in all kinds of sports and other things. When the elders in the village were dying out, the villagers did the necessary thing by getting me involved with organizing the St. Peter's Day Festival. I had to get things done like getting donations and so on. When I was fifteen years old, I got more involved in the activities in the community and I did my utmost best to see everything materialize up to this day. I am seventy-seven years old now, but they are not keeping me back from being around. I used to really push it and see that everything goes right.
There is a new committee to handle the activities now. They asked me to pass the baton, and I did. I passed it over to a certain group. Tomorrow, these groups will get together and celebrate the feast of St. Peter with the fishermen because the fishermen are the main people in the festival.
TRINIVIEW.COM: How has the festival changed from the earlier days to what it is now?
MR. KEN ST. LOUIS: I wouldn't say it has really changed from the earlier days to what it is now. We didn't have the activities then as we have now. It was a day of fasting as I said earlier. The old people long time had loved the church and they wouldn't use a bad word. Back then, if you were a Roman Catholic and you used a bad word, they would penalize you when you go to school. They would tell the teacher, "Look so and so, I heard him outside saying so and so." They would call us up to speak with the schoolmaster and if they found us guilty we would be punished.
TRINIVIEW.COM: What are some of the added activities you all have now?
MR. KEN ST. LOUIS: We have parties now. We didn't have these parties as they now have all over the place. In the earlier days, it was only the church, but all that has changed as the people get older. The festival has reached a climax because of the parties.
TRINIVIEW.COM: Apart from the actual festival, what was this community like back in the earlier days as you would have experienced it?
MR. KEN ST. LOUIS: It was a holy village. People would go to church and then go home where they would celebrate with friends and family. As the world and the country got more enlightened about different things, they took the initiative and started to develop the whole thing. Long ago, you didn't have that. The people used to just go to church and go home after. They would eat and drink and pray for the whole day or the whole night and so on. As time passed, the people got more sensible and started thinking about things much more than they would have long ago before they were able to reach to this point.
TRINIVIEW.COM: From what you have been saying, it seems that the sea and fishing have always been central parts of the lives of the people of this community.
MR. KEN ST. LOUIS: That is what the people used to live off and still do. They would go out to sea and fish and sell what they catch. What they feel to give you they would give you and so on. This is the village of the big fisherman called St. Peter.
TRINIVIEW.COM: Could you share with us a bit about your own personal history?
MR. KEN ST. LOUIS: I was born on 2nd July, 1930. I grew up on Second Avenue in Barataria. I came from a family of six; three boys and three girls. Like my parents, I too had six children. My father and his father were from Carenage and my mother was a Tobagonian. When my grandfather on my father's side died, we had to leave Barataria and come down here in Carenage to live. I was about nine years old when I came down here to live with my family and I am still here. My father lived here until he passed away. My mother and my three sisters have also passed on. My three brothers are still alive.
TRINIVIEW.COM: We observed that you wear a sailor hat. Do you play Sailor Mas?
MR. KEN ST. LOUIS: I play Fancy Sailor Mas every year. I loved it from since I was a little boy living down here. I remember seeing the older guys playing Sailor Mas and rolling in the water in the canal on Carnival day. From that time to now I have been playing Sailor Mas. I started playing from since I was about nine years old. As I got older, the Sailor Mas improved. I participated in many Carnival competitions over the years. I remember being asked by our band leader to represent the band in one of the competitions.
I received a Humming Bird Silver Medal award for loyal and devoted services in 1995. I also won many trophies for the Fancy Sailor dance over the years. I am considered as one of the best in Trinidad and Tobago right now. I am still very energetic and I think I am going to continue playing until the Father above calls me.
TRINIVIEW.COM: How did the Sailor Dance come about?
MR. KEN ST. LOUIS: That dance came about through the African people from Africa. When they have their feast they would always be dancing. Those same movements are what people put together and call the Fancy Sailor dance. The dance is now a tradition in the country. We understood things as we grew older because of the teachings we got from our fore parents. They taught us everything. They didn't hide anything from us as parents do now. They had the books about it.
TRINIVIEW.COM: Could you tell us a little more about this village?
MR. KEN ST. LOUIS: Well, we have a village council. Every month end we would have a meeting and invite the villagers to come and express their concerns and so on. In the meeting we would also share what is going on with them. We also have the 'Political, Nationhood, Morality' (PNM) party group and I am the Elections Officer in group one. The party has projects right now they are working on. For instance, you have people cleaning the drains, the roads and so on. I am a Litter Warden Officer of the village, from Point Cumana down to Carenage. I have to ensure the garbage leaves the village and the people keep the village clean and so on. Any complaints whatsoever, they come to me and I would carry it to the party group. After everything is sorted out we would carry it to the appropriated Ministry before finally to the Prime Minister to deal with all the issues we have around the village.
TRINIVIEW.COM: Are you all getting any support?
MR. KEN ST. LOUIS: We are getting the support. This village in Carenage is the PNM; the Political, Nationhood, Morality in other words. That is what PNM means even though people put it in all forms. I am an officer in that party as well. Even though I get involved in a lot of things, I am getting old now and have to pass the baton.
TRINIVIEW.COM: Tomorrow is the last day of the St. Peter's Day celebrations. What will be happening in this village?
MR. KEN ST. LOUIS: There will be a church service which starts at 8 a.m. After that service, there will be a procession from the church straight down to Pier 1 in Chaguramas. The priest will then go on a boat to perform the ceremonial blessing of the fishing boats and so on. They usually have an annual dinner in the church for the fishermen but I am not sure about the exact day.
The fishermen are the main focus around this time. They are a very important part of the village and you should have a chat with them because they may have a lot of grouse. Since the Political, Nationhood, Morality party came on stream I have been a member and I am always around. I am available in every active thing Carenage has.
TRINIVIEW.COM: Do you have any last words?
MR. KEN ST. LOUIS: The only thing I have to criticize in the village is the majority of youths who are not putting out their best. They need training and they need jobs to change a lot of things. If you look at the youths, they are getting themselves in trouble with all the killings and robberies. You could try your best with them and some of them would heed you but some would not. The youths now are very illiterate. You cannot speak to them because they think differently. We have to sit down now and think. We have to use our initiative and do the best that we can to see the village go good.
TRINIVIEW.COM: Mr. St. Louis, on behalf of Triniview.com I would like to thank you for sharing with us.
MR. KEN ST. LOUIS: It was a great pleasure.
The Eve of St. Peter's Day 2007 in pictures:
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