Chairman of the National Toshaos Council, Joel Fredericks
Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney said that he was disappointed with the manner in which the National Toshaos Council (NTC) dealt with their dissatisfaction with the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into their land titling issues.
This was disclosed at the opening of the two-day Regional National Toshaos Conference in Region Nine recently. The Minister’s dissatisfaction came about due to the NTC’s publishing of a statement calling on the government to reverse the Land COI because the COI handles both issues surrounding the ownership of lands acquired by freed Africans and Amerindian Land Titling.
Chairman of the NTC, Joel Fredericks, speaking at the conference, said the issue of land has always been a separate one and called on members of the council to unite in an effort to let it remain that way. “The NTC is not in support of a Commission (COI) that would want to look or to address coastal land issues and hinterland land issues jointly… We are not here to fight, but we are here simply to fight for our rights as Amerindian peoples,” the Chairman stated.
Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock
Minister Allicock in in response to the NTC chairman said that the COI is a system that is going to help in the process of settling land issues. However, the Minister said he found it very disrespectful that the NTC would publish such an article without first consulting the subject Minister.
The move by the NTC, according to the Minister, is a display of poor leadership. “While we talk about leadership, good governance, these are the things that we have to check ourselves. So I am asking you to let us look honestly at our development, what it is that we need to have for our communities to be properly established for economic growth,” the Minister stated.
Minister Allicock pointed out that the green light was given for land titling to continue and the Ministry is moving apace without hindrance. The Minister said that he has noticed that the leaders of communities have been misleading the people to think that they would not have representation.
The gathering at the Regional Toshaos Conference in Lethem, Region Nine
The Minister debunked the claims stating that, “ we have made it clear from day one that all the indigenous groups are going to be involved in discussions, and that is what we have been doing.”
The Minister said that nothing is perfect, adding that he would like to see the Ministry along with the NTC work towards finding ways and means of getting answers to issues that may arise.
“For the NTC to have sent out this statement in the papers was very disrespectful. I as the ex-officio member for that body was never notified, was never given the opportunity to hear the plan of what is going to happen,” Minister Allicock pointed out.
However, the NTC chairman said that he respects and supports his African brothers and sisters wanting to have their land issues settled but insisted that it should be done separately.
“We support a commission which would deal with the coastal land issues separately but we do not support a commission who wants to deal with two issues, indigenous land issues and the coastal issues, no it must be treated separately,” the chairman stated.