Campbelltown residents submit petition to remove village leaders

Mr. Earl Gildhrie submitting the petition to Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai

Residents of Campbelltown/Princeville in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) on Tuesday handed over to the Minister of Amerindian Affairs Paul Sukhai a petition for the removal of the village leaders.

The petition, which has 130 signatures, is calling for the removal of Toshao Marbel Thomas, Deputy Toshao Samantha John and the councillors of the Campbelltown Village Council.

According to a statement from the Ministry, this move stemmed from the Toshao’s “blunt refusal to allow villagers to conduct mining activities within the village, her constant abuse to residents who challenge her, and the lack of proper management and accountability by the Council”.

The delegation which handed over the petition was  was led by Mr Earl Gildharie.

The group of residents met with Minister Sukhai at the Ministry’s Quamina and Thomas Streets Office and provided further insight on the matter.

The issue dates back since April 2018 when the village held its Toshao and Councillors election which was marred by several irregularities.

The villagers proceeded to seek the intervention of the former Minister who failed to address the issue at that time.

Today, the issue has escalated because of the recent “gold rush” in the village; the Toshao has since instructed that the residents only be given one day per week to work in the mines.

Minister Sukhai explained that based on correspondence in the Ministry’s possession, it was established that the Village Council has been illegitimately installed.

She added that the petition to remove the Toshao and council will be reviewed and actions will be taken in keeping with the Amerindian Act of 2006. The Village Council will also be given a chance to respond to the allegations levied against them.

“The ministry will examine the petition in detail and seek to address it in a manner that provides for natural justice and that is, to ensure that the Toshao is notified about the petition and the matters of the petition including the allegation of the council be improperly installed and we will take it from there,” Minister Sukhai explained. She anticipates that the matter will be resolved by early November.

Mr Earl Gildharie explained that the matter has affected over 900 persons, adding that the recent “gold finds” could be a major boost to the village economy once the villagers are allowed to operate. He is optimistic that the matter will be resolved promptly so that the people can get back to their normal lives.

On October 12, the Minister Sukhai met with some 200 Residents of Campbelltown who requested an audience with her to raise issues regarding mining in the village. The villagers reported that the Toshao has been denying them their right to carry out their mining activities in the area, and has allowed her friends and family and foreign nationals to operate without consulting them. They requested the Government’s intervention since their livelihood was being threatened.

Campbelltown is the closest Amerindian village to Mahdia, in Region Eight. Its main economic activities are mining and subsistence farming.