Fresh off the country’s status as the world’s newest republic, Barbados is breaking ground on a transatlantic slavery museum with the largest collection of British slave records outside the United Kingdom.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced the creation of the Barbados Heritage District, which includes a “memorial, a major global research institute, and a museum located in Newton Plantation outside the country’s capital, dedicated to accurately recounting the historic and contemporary impact of slavery on Barbados and on the lives of individuals, cultures, and nations of the Western hemisphere.”

The first phase of the project will be the Newton Enslaved Burial Ground Memorial. This monument will serve as a tribute to the country’s enslaved ancestors and provide an avenue to remember and honor those impacted by the effects of forced migration. The development is expected to be a catalyst for significant job growth across multiple industries.

“Barbados is authentically enshrining our history and preserving the past as we reimagine our world and continue to contribute to global humanity,” said Mottley in a statement. “It is a moral imperative but equally an economic necessity.”

David Adjaye, who has been commissioned to design the project, shared his vision for the Barbados Heritage District.

“Drawing upon the technique and philosophy of traditional African tombs, prayer sites, and pyramids, the memorial is conceived as a space that contemporaneously honors the dead, edifies the living, and manifests a new diasporic future for Black civilization that is both of the African continent and distinct from it.”

At the inauguration of Barbados’ new president Dame Sandra Mason, who replaced the Queen as head of state, Prince Charles acknowledged the UK’s role in Barbados’ grim beginnings.

“From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude,” he said. “Emancipation, self-government, and independence were your way-points. Freedom, justice, and self-determination have been your guides. Your long journey has brought you to this moment, not as your destination, but as a vantage point from which to survey a new horizon.”

The groundbreaking is slated for November 30, 2022, on the first anniversary of Barbados’ status as a Parliamentary Republic, and the project is scheduled for completion by 2025.