Greater outreach part of plan to push indigenous people’s representation- new Toshaos’ Council Chairman
Newly-elected Chairman of the National Toshaos’ Council (NTC) Derrick John has promised that his executive committee will engage in more countrywide outreach activities in a bid to push representation for Guyana’s indigenous people.
John, who is also the Toshao of Moraikobai in Region Five (Mahaica- Berbice), acknowledged that there are numerous issues affecting indigenous communities across the country. As such, he believes it is his responsibility to advocate for solutions to those woes.
Before that advocacy can be done, however, the NTC must be able to ascertain what issues exist and how exactly people are affected. Though this appears to be a tall task, Toshao John said the new Executive Committee is not daunted.
“We have a very dynamic young team, prepared to work.
“… one of our approachs is that they would have to go out there and do more outreach into the villages, so that we can have more accurate understanding of the situation for people in the interior and more so these remote communities,” the NTC Chairman said during an interview with the News Room on Tuesday.
Several issues have already been raised by Toshaos at the ongoing NTC conference, being hosted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre in Liliendaal, Georgetown. Key issues raised include health services needed in communities, delayed land- titling efforts and transportation woes.
John, who previously served as the NTC Chairman in 2012, acknowledged that many issues are longstanding. He, however, believes that incremental progress is being made and the new Executive Committee will be able to advance the progress.
The NTC, according to the 2006 Amerindian Act, is tasked with promoting good governance in villages, preparing plans to aid sustainable development, promoting the recognition and use of indigenous languages, advising the subject minister on several issues, inter alia.
To execute these functions, resources- be it personnel or funds- are needed. In the past, John conceded that the NTC grappled with budget cuts that constrained its work.
Now, however, the Toshao opined that once a “comprehensive plan” for intended work is presented to the government, the resources needed will be provided. He was reassured of this support by President Dr. Irfaan Ali, who pledged his support to the NTC on Monday at the conference’s opening ceremony.
During his tenure as Chairman, Toshao John is expected to be instrumental in the consultative process needed for the review of the Amerindian Act.