Family Tree Connects Caribbean family with their island past

November 3rd is Dominica Independence Day

By Neandra Etienne

A piece of fabric with embroidered patches and photos of family hangs on a gallery wall
Julia’s family tree. Photo: Neandra Etienne

For many Newham residents 3 November is a special day – it’s Dominica Independence Day when people from the Caribbean island celebrate their heritage.

Our own columnist Julia Omari and her family who originated from the island will also be having a special celebration as a family tree produced by Julia will feature in the Designed for Life exhibition as part of a project called Traces being shown at the London College of Fashion.

Julia said: “I joined the project which supported participants in creating a piece of Story Cloth that represented our family roots and journey to England.

“It was extremely interesting to learn how families who started elsewhere in the world ended up in Newham. There was also a family who held deep roots in Newham long before the Borough was given its name in 1965.”

She said her father, who was from The Commonwealth of Dominica, passed away before her daughter was born.

“As a result I am always looking for ways to create a bond between the two,” she said. “The Traces project which ran in Rosetta Arts was an enjoyable way to share a small part of the family tree with her.”

She says she had previously visited Dominica Close, which is a road in Plaistow named in honour of the many people of Dominica who moved to Newham during the Windrush Generation years.

“My daughter was also a model in the Sakafet London Dominican Fashion Show, produced by Neandra Etienne Newham Voices Chief Reporter, held for last year’s Windrush Day at Stratford Town Hall,” she said.

“I hope in the future to take my daughter to visit Dominica and see her grandfather’s birth place for herself,” she said.

Designed for Life is the inaugural exhibition at London College of Fashion, UAL’s new East Bank home, at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It runs until 19 January, Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm. FREE admission, no need to book in advance. London College of Fashion, UAL, 105 Carpenters Road, Stratford, E20 2AR.

For more information on LCF’s cultural programme at its new East Bank campus, please visit: london-college-of-fashion/ cultural-programme