Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affair Sydney Allicock enjoined the building of partnerships for sustainable livelihood and the good life, as representatives from some 215 indigenous communities gather at the Cyril Potter College of Education, Turkeyen for the National Toshao Conference (NTC) 2017.
Over the next six days, the NTC will engage in dialogue on issues such as Amerindian land titling, the revision of the Amerindian Act and indigenous rights in general.
Minister Allicock addressing the opening of the conference on Monday, noted that this was the final year in the life of this NTC. It is also the final year in the life of the Village Councils across the country. “I challenge you, therefore, to examine your own stewardship. Identify your successes, confront your shortcomings and work in the remaining months of this term to ensure that the legacy you leave behind will be celebrated by the generations to come. Remember that if we made no mistakes, it means that we did nothing; but if we make the same mistake twice we never learnt from the first one,” the Minister challenged the indigenous leaders.
Minister Allicock observed that government through the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs has been working in partnership with the indigenous communities of Guyana with tremendous success. He pointed out that the Amerindian Development Fund (ADF) with its Community Development Projects (CDPs) continues to impact positively on the sustainable livelihood of Indigenous Peoples all across Guyana and contrary to rumours, the Amerindian Land Titling Project (ALT) is up and running.
“The committed team of the ALT on which a number of State Agencies are represented, continues to push relentlessly towards the fulfillment of the project’s objectives. The latest mission was conducted during the period Wednesday 16th to Thursday 17th August 2017. That mission was in Santa Rosa and Little Kannabali in Region One. The NTC representative was regrettably absent,” the Minister pointed out.
The Hinterland Employment Youth Services (HEYS) Programme also continues to change lives, inspire hope, build personal and village economies even as new projects such as the Paramakatoi Sun-dried Tomato project in Region Eight comes on stream. The latter, he noted “speaks volumes of the successes of partnering and transfer of technology from the city to the deep hinterland.”
“There is indeed much to celebrate and to build upon. The momentum must not be lost. The momentum must not be sacrificed on the altar of selfish or partisan political expedience. On the contrary, the momentum must be heightened and centred upon the best interest of all the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana,” the Minister declared, as he called on the village leaders to work with the government. “Let us partner on these matters. Let us join hands with agencies, organisations and individuals whose intentions are honourable and coincide with ours. Let us build stronger families, Villages, Regions and a stronger Guyana,” the Minister urged.
He called on the Toshaos to lead their villages in demonstrating a higher level of maturity and professionalism in accounting for the resources at their disposal; to consider moving away from electing a treasurer and embrace the idea of employing an accounting officer. “Consider the employment of this officer as one with security of tenure. This can mitigate against the challenges of constant replacement of the treasurer and the absence of institutional memory and continuity. Such an arrangement brings with it many benefits including long term benefits from structured training and proper succession planning for sustainable resource management,” the Minister pointed out.
Another suggestion put forth by the Minister, was for the leaders to consider the importance of establishing and implementing Village Rules. “You must recognise that times are changing. The unwritten rules which were passed down from generation to generation are now in jeopardy. The oral tradition is faltering and the younger people among us no longer have the benefit of the wisdom of our elders as they did in my time,” the Minister said, pointing out that “Rules which are not known cannot be respected.”
Minister Allicock suggested that they consider formulating Village Rules which are not only punitive, but are balanced by incentives such as goals, preservation of the environment, growth of village economies, development of eco-tourism ventures, maximising the benefits presented for agriculture, food, water security and the protection of our children from social ills. (MoTP)