NTC granted land for Georgetown Secretariat

first_imgAmerindian Heritage Month 2017Amerindian Heritage Month 2017 opened on Friday with much flare at the Indigenous Heritage Village at Sophia; and the rich culture, food and music of Guyana’s Amerindians were on full display.However, neither President David Granger nor Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo was present at the Friday launch, having sent in excuses stating that they were ‘busy’.A section of the gathering at the launching of Amerindian Heritage MonthIndigenous People’s Affairs Minister Sydney Allicock has, however, reiterated Government’s support for the Indigenous peoples. During his feature address, he pointed out that the President had consented to the National Toshaos Conference (NTC) request for a plot of land. The request for a Secretariat for the NTC was made to President Granger by Indigenous leaders last year at the National Toshaos Conference. It is understood that the Secretariat will be constructed in the Compound of the Sophia Exhibition Centre.NTC Chairman, Joel Fredericks, had said the Secretariat would be “a place where we (NTC) can have our headquarters functioning; a place where the Indigenous peoples can come and lay their issues, they can find some help and support there”.Fredericks had expressed expectations that construction of the NTC Secretariat would commence shortly. He said the President had committed to supporting the venture. “We have some resources at hand, what we can start with; and his Excellency (has) also (committed) to giving some support,” Fredericks stated.“It is expected that that building, which will be known as the Secretariat, will help the communities to realise their dreams. It will be a place of action. No longer complaints and gyaff, but action. And Government is committed to give its support,” Allicock said.Allicock also paid tribute to renowned artist and archaeologist George Simon. Widely regarded as one of the leading artists of his generation and the founder of the Lokono Artists Group, Simon was present at the launch.Heritage festivalAt Friday’s ceremony, a number of Indigenous organisations took to the podium to reflect on the significance of Heritage Month. Representatives came from groups such as the Amerindian People’s Association (APA), The Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAAMOG), Guyana Organisation of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP), and National Amerindian Development Foundation (NADF).The St Cuthbert’s Cultural Group was in action, thrilling crowds with their cultural presentation. The Surama Culture Group, from whence Minister Allicock hails, also joined in on the action.Trailing this opening ceremony will be the art/craft and food exhibitions, the Heritage sports, reflection on the life and work of the first Indigenous Parliamentarian, Steven Campbell; the Heritage dinner at Lions Club; and the much anticipated Miss Indigenous Heritage Pageant, showcasing elegance, beauty and culture.The Indigenous Peoples Affairs Ministry launched the annual Heritage Festival at the Umana Yana earlier last month under the theme “Guyana’s first peoples; sustaining a rich cultural environment”. The launch was done in the spirit of International Day of World Indigenous Peoples.Minister within the Indigenous Peoples Affairs Ministry, Valerie Garrido-Lowe, had highlighted the struggles of Indigenous peoples in their fight for equal rights, not confined to Guyana but rather on an international scale.“In many countries, (including) in our South American continent, many Indigenous peoples still suffer injustices simply because they are the first peoples, and they want to be recognised as such. Many are advocating and literally fighting for their lives, for their lands; and some of the most outspoken; some of the bravest, have died for this cause,” the Minister lamented.She had also reflected on her 2016 visit to Ecuador, where Indigenous women had gathered to discuss the concerns of Indigenous peoples and the way forward, and said she was amazed at the indignities that fellow Indigenous peoples had to suffer in this modern day and age.“I realised then how far advanced Guyana was as a nation in the treatment of Indigenous peoples,” she noted.Amerindian Heritage Month 2017 is geared at celebrating Guyana’s first peoples by reflecting on their contributions; and to protect, pursue and promote Indigenous heritage while trying to recapture lost traditions.This year’s calendar of activities was also unveiled at the launch, showing that it will kick-start with a ceremonial launch and cultural extravaganza on September 1, 2017 at the Sophia Exhibition Centre in Georgetown.Ovid Williams had presented an overview of the cultural aspect of the month’s celebrations.last_img read more

Flood evacuees for eight years Little Saskatchewan residents finally have a place

first_imgInFocusEvery year, many communities across Turtle Island near rivers and lakes brace for the possibility of a spring flood.Often, traditional lands have become flood-prone from man-made dams or diversions or communities were moved onto flood plains by the Canadian government.For Little Saskatchewan First Nation on Lake St. Martin, 255 kilometres north of Winnipeg, it’s meant 20 plus years of being prepared for massive spring flooding.But in 2011, no amount of sandbags could keep back the water back when the Manitoba government made the decision to flood the Interlake region of the province in order to spare Winnipeg from nature’s wrath.They were evacuated and their community was destroyed.“It has a lot of emotional impact, and all the stress you go through, the feeling of being in your own home is not the same and you have to stay somewhere else,” said Muriel Woodford“I was gone over six years. I just recently went back November 2017.”Woodford now has a new home a few kilometers away from her old home, which survived the flood with significant damage but was lost in a brush fire in 2016.Farmland was purchased on higher ground a kilometre from the old town site.Seventy-seven homes have been built and are occupied with 93 more set for this summer.Currently 300 evacuees remain scattered throughout Winnipeg while the new community continues to be built.Bertha Travers is one of them.She has been bounced from hotel to hotel, community to community before landing at an apartment in Winnipeg where she remains while awaiting a new home to replace the beloved one she lost to the flood.She’s been waiting eight years.That evacuation order in the Spring of 2011 still haunts her.“To me, it really traumatized me emotionally because this is the second time in my life, being taken off reserve,” Travers said.“When I was a little girl and I went to residential school, it came right back again. You know the memories, the flashing and it was horrible.”She wasn’t about to be ordered off her reserve again so she stayed and waited. And the waters rose and rose.“It took me until June 14 (2011) when I actually moved. The water was hitting the Jeep wheel wells. I finally got out then and told my dog, I said Chill (my dog), its time to go. ”While the bulk of band members will be back living in their new homes in the new community this summer, having your people displaced all over the province for the better part of a decade, it’s the community itself that needs rebuilding.“What we’ve been trying to do in the past few years is to bring our community and people together,” Councillor Darrell Shorting said.“We hold events such as the Treaty Day, the fishing derbies, we supply meals in the community, we have barbecues,” said Shorting. “We also held meals in Winnipeg, things like that, that bring people together. It won’t resolve all the issues but hopefully bring people together.”But being way from home for year’s changes people and their how they live.  People have become urbanized living away from the community.  Some who left as youth evacuees are now returning as young adults with kids. Many have become accustomed to city life and need to reconnect with their roots.“If you left at 15 years old, you’re now 23 with a family, living in the city of Winnipeg, you can go to any corner store or Walmart,” said Coun. Leroy Thompson, adding the band is building a store to cover a wide variety of needs, along with a gas bar and a church.As of April 23, 2019 the total cost related to the 2011 flood, which affected a handful of other First Nations in the region, was at $190 million and counting, according to Indigenous Services Canada.last_img read more