The tenth annual National Toshaos Conference opened today at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, under the theme “Guyana’s First Peoples, Preserving Our Culture and Land For Life.”
And over the next five days matters such as the revision of the Amerindian Act, land titling, problems caused by mining and Hinterland education will top the agenda.
Chairman of the National Toshaos Council, Joel Fredericks applauded the government for the support it has shown the Indigenous People of Guyana since its assumption to office.
Fredericks said “I believe that this is a time when the leaders can sit with His Excellency and his government to talk about land issues, we have the ALT project and under the ALT project started under the former administration and I would like to say, they have done some work but more needs to be done to address land issues for the Indigenous People.”
He made a call for the reservation of a plot of land in Georgetown for the building of a secretariat for the National Toshaos Council, as well as an increase in the stipend for Toshaos.
Head of State, David Granger committed to having the requests deliberated at the level of the cabinet.
The NTC chairman also called on all stakeholders and government to work together in an effort to better Hinterland education, since the future of Indigenous children is of great concern to him.
Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Sydney Allicock in his remarks said it was a good year regardless of the challenges faced in the Indigenous Communities, including the drought.
According to him, there has been steady progress with regard to the President’s ten point plan for Hinterland development. However, he expressed displeasure with the lack of respect for elected Toshaos by some villagers and vice versa.
“Villages, however, continue the struggle with division and the work of agents of division, your struggle will cause you to emerge triumphant in the very short term, do not relent, I urge you all to accept the traditional ways and solutions will emerge, ” Allicock pointed out.
The minister also informed that his ministry is discussing a significant agriculture project which will benefit regions one and nine. It seeks to build on the successes of the Amerindian Development Fund Project.
Meantime, President Granger delivering the feature address alluded to the many health and other challenges including lack of an adequate water supply, availability of electricity and much more, however with collective effort the President is optimistic that solutions would be possible.
He noted that “it is, however, difficult for a single annual conference to execute day to day management to these complex problems to which I have spoken about over such a vast area, from north to south and east to west. The conference must therefore, ask itself whether there can be a different administrative approach to resolving these problems.”
At the level of the cabinet, the government is discussing the establishment of ministerial planning units.
President Granger recommended that a five-member authority be established to implement policies coming out of the NTC, as well as the policies and programmes authorized by the cabinet, National Assembly and the government.