Amerindians an integral part of Guyanese society

Permanent Forum of Indigenous Peoples

Permanent Forum of Indigenous Peoples

NAR: The Amerindians of Guyana are an integral part of Guyanese society. So says Yvonne Pearson, Chairperson of the National Toshaos Council of Guyana. She told the Permanent Forum of Indigenous Peoples that as such, the Government of Guyana has redoubled efforts to address issues affecting Amerindians in order to overcome centuries of marginalization.

TAPE:         Apart from improved access to education and health, special attention is also being focused on boosting economic activities in community through livelihood programmes which have contributed to the resuscitation of rural agriculture and the provision of employment and also addressing food security.

NAR: Ms. Pearson says the Constitution of Guyana guarantees the equality of all citizens, including Amerindians. She points out that the revision of the Amerindian Act in 2006 is a tangible manifestation of this obligation.

TAPE:         Among its many aspects – the Act recognizes the linkages between the spiritual well-being, identity and sustainable livelihood of indigenous peoples – our Amerindian people – and their connection to land.  The Government of Guyana recognizes the rights of our Amerindian people to ownership of land which is absolute and forever. Moreover, there are ongoing training programmes and awareness sessions to enhance the knowledge of our Amerindian peoples of their human rights which is critical to our participation in decision-making and upholding the principles of free prior and informed consent. Based on our knowledge of our rights and the global climate change situation, our indigenous peoples have been able to contribute significantly to the development of the low-carbon development strategy in Guyana.

NAR: In fact, Ms. Pearson adds, Amerindians are not threatened by the National Strategy. Rather, they view it as a tool to better manage their land and resources.

TAPE:         The promotion and protection of the rights of Amerindians in Guyana is supported by varying mechanisms, including a Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, the National Toshaos Council and the Indigenous Peoples Commission. These mechanisms have distinct responsibilities to enhance the status of our Amerindian peoples and respond to our legitimate demands and needs. While significant progress is being made on issues of our Amerindian peoples in Guyana, we nevertheless hasten to underscore that more needs to be done for our Amerindians in Guyana. We fully anticipate that the current Second International Decade of World Indigenous People  will contribute in accelerating progress in addressing issues of concern to the indigenous peoples worldwide.

NAR: Ms. Pearson says the forum has a pivotal role to play in focusing attention and encouraging attention towards these ends.

At the same time, she noted that Guyana was particularly pleased at the election of Mr. Bertie Shavier to the Permanent Forum of Indigenous Peoples. She expressed confidence that he would be able to contribute to the work of the forum given his wide experience as the serving chief of the Makushi people and his knowledge of the issues affecting indigenous peoples.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

 Duration: 3’54″

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December 2017
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