Dominican Republic national symbols


THE NATIONAL FLAG OF DOMINICA

This is the national flag of Dominica with its most recent design as of 3 November 1988. The history of the changes that were made to our flag is given below. Dominican artist and playwright Alwin Bully designed the flag in early 1978 in preparation for the gaining of independence from Britain later that year and the cabinet made certain small alterations to the original design.

Alwin Bully was born in Roseau in 1948 and was educated at the Convent Preparatory School, the Dominica Grammar School, the St. Mary's Academy and The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill. He returned to teach at his old Alma Mata, eventually serving as its headmaster. During this time he was deeply involved in promoting all aspects of the arts in Dominica including drama, painting, dance, folk traditions, creative writing and Carnival. In 1965 he had represented Dominica at the Commonwealth Arts Festival in Britain along with members of the Kairi and Dominica Dance troups. In 1978, with the encouragement of then Minister of Education, H. L. Christian, he established the ‘cultural desk’ in the Ministry of Education that eventually developed into the Cultural Division in the Ministry of Community Development. In 1987 he left Dominica to work at the regional office of UNESCO in Jamaica, applying his creative skills to the wider Caribbean.

The flag was legally established by Act No. 18 of 1978, The National Emblems of Dominica Act, signed by the Governor, Sir Louis Cools-Lartigue on 31 October 1978, Gazetted 1 November 1978 and effective 3 November 1978.

I give here a simplified description of the flag. The official one published in 1978 can be seen below. The flag has a green background representing the forested island. A cross, made up of three bands representing "the Trinity of God" is white, black and yellow in colour, and the cross itself "demonstrates belief in God". According to the designer, Alwin Bully, the colours of each band represent aspects of the land and the ethnic origins of its people: the yellow for the sunshine, the main agricultural products of the island at the time, citrus and bananas and the indigenous Carib/Kalinago people, the black for the soil and the African heritage, the white for the rivers and waterfalls of the island and the European influence.

This was Alwin Bully’s original intention, but the official description reads that the white band represents "the clarity of our rivers and waterfalls and the purity of the aspirations of our people" and the Europeans are not mentioned at all. This is an ironic exclusion, because a large percentage of Dominicans, mixed as they may be, are descended from Europeans, particularly the early French settlers such as Royer, Le Blanc, Dubios, Laurent, Darroux, Anselm, Giraudel, Sorhaindo, Peltier, Sabroache, Rolle, Brument, Fontaine, Dupigny, Vidal and many others and not forgetting such British ancestry as the Shillingfords, Greens, Garraways, Bells, Pembertons, Nixons, Warringtons, Senhouses, Musgraves, Winstons, Macintyres, Grells and many others. The European cultural influences, for better or for worse are all around us. But then again the flag is a product of its time, and the mood of 1970s ideology was very much aimed at downplaying the white presence.

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