NTC cites po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence in Amerindian com­mu­ni­ties

Weekend Mirror - - CHILDREN’S CORNER -

the Na­tional Toshaos Coun­cil ( NTC) con­fer­ence got un­der­way on Mon­day at the Cyril Pot­ter Col­lege of Ed­u­ca­tion, sev- eral burn­ing is­sues af­fect­ing Amerindian com­mu­ni­ties were brought to the fore from the on­set, some of which in­cluded the al­leged po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence in Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties and the need for strength­en­ing of the NTC – the largest or­gan­i­sa­tion rep­re­sent­ing this par­tic­u­lar eth­nic group.

Pres­i­dent David Granger; Prime Min­is­ter, Moses Nag­amootoo; Indige­nous Peo­ples Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sydney Al- lic­ock; NTC Chair­man Joel Fred­er­icks and mem­ber of the Na­tional Toshaos Coun­cil at the open­ing on Mon­day

Vice Pres­i­dent and Indige­nous Peo­ple’s Af­fairs Min­is­ter, Sydney Al­lic­ock stated in his ad­dress at the open­ing of the an­nual con­fer­ence that the NTC lead­er­ship ap­pears to be weak and disjointed and urged lead­ers to work to­wards strength­en­ing this in­sti­tu­tion. Al­lic­ock said how­ever that lead­er­ship among vil­lages and com­mu­ni­ties seems to be much stronger than that of the NTC ex­ec­u­tive.“I de­tect the need for a stronger, more uni­fied ap­proach to de­ci­sion-mak­ing at the level of the ex­ec­u­tive. I urge that we recog­nise the need for deep­en­ing the process of con­sul­ta­tion on some crit­i­cal is­sues be­tween that body and the wider lead­er­ship of the NTC – this means you,” the Min­is­ter stated.

Al­lic­ock ques­tioned whether lead­ers that form the NTC have been con­sulted on is­sues af­fect­ing their re­spec­tive vil­lages and whether they know what hap­pens after the ex­ec­u­tive of the NTC makes a de­ci­sion on a par­tic­u­lar mat­ter. On that note, the Min­is­ter said a lot more fo­cus needs to be placed on cre­at­ing pos­i­tive changes in the many Amerindian vil­lages that spread across Guyana.

Ac­cord­ing to him, too much neg­a­tiv­ity is often ped­dled in fo­rums like that con­fer­ence. He said while it’s im­por­tant to high­light chal­lenges that face these Amerindi­ans vil­lages, it would also be good to sug­gest sound de­vel­op­ment plans that could help with bet­ter­ing the liveli­hoods of the peo­ple of the vil­lages.

Mean­while, NTC Chair­man Joel Fred­er­icks told the del­e­ga­tion at the con­fer­ence that there is po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence, in the ex­e­cu­tion of pro­grammes and poli­cies in Amerindian com­mu­ni­ties, such as the es­tab­lish­ment of towns. This in­cludes ar­eas such as: Lethem, in Re­gion Nine (Up­per Takutu-Up­per Esse­quibo); Bar­tica in Re­gion Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni); and Mah­dia, in Re­gion Eight (Po­taro-Si­paruni). “We need to have con­sul­ta­tion, Mr Pres­i­dent; all of these without the Indige­nous par­tic­i­pa­tion through FPIC (Free Prior and In­formed Con­sent). This is trou­bling and needs re­dress mech­a­nism,” he posited, while call­ing for the es­tab­lish­ment of the Indige­nous Peo­ples Com­mis­sion.

Fred­er­icks said apart from this issue, the most re­oc­cur­ring issue af­fect­ing Amerindian vil­lages un­til now is land rights. While ac­knowl­edg­ing that these is­sues can only be ad­dressed over a long pe­riod of time, the NTC Chair­man said more work is needed in this area.

The NTC Chair­man also urged lead­ers to work to­gether to re­solve the issue of the Amerindian Act. He said, “Let us work to­gether in­stead of back and forth, pulling and tug­ging. We need to at­tack the is­sues and change our mind­set of at­tack­ing per­son­al­i­ties.”

Land ti­tling and de­mar­ca­tion, and amend­ments to the Amerindian Act of 2006 are two of the top­ics that will be up for dis­cus­sion at this year’s NTC Con­fer­ence.

Land de­mar­ca­tion of Indige­nous set­tle­ments, es­pe­cially with re­gard to min­ing ac­tiv­ity, has long been a con­tentious issue among lead­ers of these com­mu­ni­ties.

Many Indige­nous lead­ers and or­gan­i­sa­tions have voiced con­cerns over the im­po­si­tion of min­ing ac­tiv­ity on their lands to Gov­ern­ment and the pub­lic over the years. (Sa­muel Sukhnan­dan – Guyana Tomes)

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