NTC Conference commences…President recommends establishment of Nat’l Indigenous People’s Authority
During the opening of the 10th Annual National Toshaos Council (NTC) conference, which kicked off yesterday at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, Liliendaal, President David Granger recommended the establishment of a National Indigenous People’s Authority (NIPA).
Photo: President Granger greets a participant of the National Toshaos Council Conference, as its Chairman, Joel Fredericks (third from right) and Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Sydney Allicock (left of the President) look on. (Ministry of the Presidency Photo)
The Head of State charged Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Sydney Allicock, to propose measures to establish the body which will watch over and fast-track the implementation of decisions made by the NTC, along with other decision-making agencies. The body will also support the NTC‘s efforts to ensure there is a higher quality of life between the Hinterland and the Coastland regions.
The NIPA – which the President envisages will be made up of five persons – will work under the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs (MOIPA).
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the NTC, Joel Fredericks, lauded the Government for the support being shown to the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana. He welcomed the President’s announcement and stated that he would prefer the NIPA to include two representatives of the NTC.
“I believe it’s a good idea from the President and I support it and I believe the Toshao Council should be a part; at least one or two members should be a part of the five-member team to make things happen, because we are the people who go out in the fields and we know the issues out there and we can easily communicate with our people and bring back information so His Excellency can be well-informed,” he said.
Fredericks called for the reservation of a plot of land in Georgetown for the erecting of a Secretariat for the NTC and also, a stipend increase for Toshaos.
The President committed to having the requests deliberated at the level of Cabinet.
Fredericks also called for cooperation between all stakeholders and Government to ensure that there is better Education in the Hinterland.
Minister Allicock said that despite the various challenges being faced in Amerindian Communities – including the months-long drought, this year has been a good one. He added, also, that there has been steady progress with the President’s ten-point plan for Hinterland Development.
However, he expressed dissatisfaction with what he claimed was a lack of respect between some Toshaos and villagers. Allicock said that villages continue to struggle with division and ‘the work of agents of division’.
“Your struggle will cause you to emerge triumphant in the very short term, do not relent. I urge you to accept the traditional ways and solutions will emerge,” the Minister advised.
The five-day conference is being held this year under the theme “Guyana’s First Peoples, Preserving our Culture and Land for Life” and is expected to deal with matters related to the revision of the Amerindian Act, land titling, problems caused by mining and hinterland education among other issues.