GINA, GUYANA, Thursday, September 2, 2016
The National Toshaos Council (NTC) Meeting which was held from August 22 to 27, 2016, at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, Liliendaal was deemed a success, the council’s Chairman, Joel Fredericks and Vice Chairman, Lennox Shuman told the media.
According to the chairman, the recently concluded NTC meeting was one with a difference compared to the past years. Fredericks was speaking at a press conference held at the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Thomas Street, Georgetown, today.
The NTC chairman said, “It is the first time in history as I know the NTC has ever chaired their own conference.” Fredericks believes that the capacity building opportunities which were provided in the past, efficiently prepared them to successfully host over 200 community leaders, where at least 80 percent were able to express themselves.
“We have been given the chance to demonstrate what we have been taught in different workshops, leadership, public speaking and all these things, so that is something new,” Fredericks noted.
Meanwhile, Shuman pointed out that the NTC provided the platform for indigenous peoples to discuss their issues independently. “We had the opportunity to control the agenda and our programme for the first time I think in the establishment of the NTC history, and that I would say is a marked departure from previous years,” the Vice Chairman explained.
Additionally, the NTC Chairman pointed out that the council meeting brought to the surface a number of issues which say that members of the NTC have a lot of work to do.
Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock speaking at the press conference noted that it is good that government and toshaos could meet to discuss issues affecting them.
“You have asked that we look at or do things a little differently, and I think that is what we have started to do by allowing you the opportunity to manage your affairs,” the Minister said.
Additionally, Minister Allicock pointed out that in order to properly address the issues coming out of the NTC, there must be cooperation and communication. The Minister alluded to what government has been doing to remedy the problem. “We have embarked upon giving radio stations which will be able to help with the transformation of information to our people, and of course to hear what is happening on the coast,” the Minister explained.
The revision of the Amerindian Act of 2006, the Minister noted is one that requires extensive consultations before decisions could be made.
Mining on indigenous lands was another major issue which came out of the NTC conference. Fredericks is calling for the Ministry of Natural Resources and other stakeholders to enforce the rules and regulations for mining activities. “At the end of all the mining activities, when the miners extract the gold and the minerals, the indigenous peoples remain there,” Fredericks explained.
The NTC was held from August 22 to 27, 2016. During the meeting, indigenous leaders from 212 communities were able to address issues affecting their communities. The conference was held under the theme “Guyana’s first people, preserving our culture and land for life.”
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