‘Harmony, unity must be strengthened to guard against division’–ERC Arrival Day message



The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) extends best wishes to all Guyanese on the observance of Arrival Day 2020, marking 100 years of the end of Indentureship. This Day, May 5, commemorates the profound historical period of Indentureship lasting from 1838 until 1920- the year that the British Parliament officially ended the contractual scheme to then British Guiana.

The ERC therefore wishes to take the opportunity on this centennial milestone to reiterate the need for all to build together upon our gains and to continue robustly the process of fostering unity and harmony. Today, we celebrate the enrichment of diversity that Arrival Day embodies in the shaping of modern Guyana. Arrival Day is most significant for what it represents in the context of the multi-faceted mosaic it created and for which our country is known.

Our hodgepodge of multiculturalism was as a result of the untold sacrifices, desires and steadfastness of our ancestors, to practice and preserve their rich and colourful cultural traditions, having come to this land from different parts of the world at different times in our history.

In doing so individually through the various ethnic groups, sharing and participation in each other’s traditions forged our dear nation to become multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural. That is evident as all participate meaningfully in each other’s festivities which have transcended religious and ethnic boundaries to become truly national observances.

Over time, that rich, beautiful and vibrant diversity has become our strength and the common bond in the process of becoming one people in this our nation working towards a common destiny. While there have been challenges along the way, our Guyanese brothers and sisters have always found ways to foster togetherness through tolerance and respect. Herein lies the desire of all of our people for harmony and unity to be strengthened and for it to continue to prevail across this land that is home to all.

This is imperative in the interest of our nation and all its peoples so that our diversity must never be made a tool for division but one that will continue to reflect our strength and bonds of togetherness. May 5 also marks the anniversary of the arrival of our East Indian ancestors who reached these shores on that day in 1838 while two days ago on May 3, Portuguese Arrival Day was observed.

The colourful commemorative events across the country will once again serve to bring our people together, allowing opportunities to not only participate, but for the continuation of that important process of educating for a better understanding and appreciation of our cultural traditions. This builds tolerance which is the bedrock of harmony and unity as we strive for one people out of many cultures.

As Guyanese record another milestone amidst the difficult and threatening COVID-19 crisis, the ERC nevertheless emphasizes the importance of continuing to observe all the necessary precautions and regulations.

Happy Arrival Day to all Guyanese here and in the Diaspora!


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