Mae’s, APA to sensitize students about Indigenous culture

…School agrees to apologise to Indigenous boy

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The administration of Mae’s private school has agreed to apologise to a 9-year-old boy who was discriminated against because he was dressed in his Indigenous traditional wear during the school’s culture day event on May 25.

The decision of the school to apologise comes after Joshua Small’s parents along with representatives from the Amerindian People’s Association (APA) protested outside the school last week and demanded that the administration apologise for causing the child to be humiliated and traumatised.

A statement from the APA on Tuesday noted that the school’s Director, Stacey French and its Administrator, Lucinda McCurdy met with the boy’s parents – Jason Chacon and Karen Small along with APA’s Executive Director, Jean La Rose and other officials at the Association’s Charlotte Street office in Georgetown.

According to the statement, the meeting represented the first occasion that the mother of the child was able to recount directly to the school’s top administration how the incident took place and to express her concerns about its impact on him.

Mother of child, Karen Small, recounts the incident as representatives from the APA, Mae’s Schools and activist Natasha Smith, listen intently [APA photo]

The mother also expressed her displeasure with the inaccuracies contained in a statement released by the school on the matter.

The statement explained that after some back and forth on the matter, the school’s Director agreed that she would apologise to the young man for the outcome of the incident and the trauma that he experienced shortly after.

“She did not, however, go so far as to say she would issue a public apology saying that she had to confer on this. The APA and others, including the parents, felt that this was necessary as a people had been hurt as was demonstrated by the denunciation from across the country,” the statement noted.

The APA further stated that the incident should be used both as a teaching and learning opportunity for the student and faculty body of the school. 

The Association suggested that it can help the school in sensitizing students and others on larger issues affecting indigenous peoples and their role in society.

In this regard, the school has agreed to host a session in collaboration with the Association to inform students and teachers of indigenous culture and overcoming the negative stereotypes which continue to exist.

“The APA sees the outcome of this meeting as a step in the right direction towards resolving the young child’s the incident and addressing cultural prejudices that may persist today.

 

“The Association would also like to take this opportunity to thank those persons stood together in advocating for the rights of the young student, his family and indigenous peoples across Guyana,” the statement noted.

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