Heritage Month launched

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– with President re-committing to improving the lives of Indegenous peoples

Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe, as she addressed the gathering on Saturday night

GOVERNMENT is laying the foundation for greater equality in hinterland communities as it continues towards its aim of eliminating poverty in these areas.
This is according to President David Granger who was at the time addressing dozens of persons gathered at the Sophia Exhibition Complex for the official opening of Indigenous Heritage Month on Saturday.

This year, the celebrations are being held under the theme “Proud of our indigenous identity – celebrate in unity” and among those at the launch were Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs , Sydney Allicock; Junior Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs , Valerie Garrido-Lowe ; and members of the diplomatic corps.

President Granger told the gathering that he has asked the National Toshaos Council (NTC) for a village improvement plan so that each village across the nation can benefit from the public services extended by the Government.

He said each village would conform to a systematic approach so that amenities such as running water and telecommunications can be provided.
The President noted that the plans would be able to also attract businesses — persons interested in producing craft and agro-processed goods from those areas.

He said, too, that tourism can also benefit the villages once the plans are well organised.
“So ladies and gentlemen, the groundwork is being laid to ensure that inequalities in public education , in income , in access to public services between hinterland communities and the rest of the country are eliminated,” the President said.

He told the gathering that it is “painful” for him to see an entire school population in a hinterland community emerging from the institution in the afternoon barefooted. “We have to bring greater equality,” he said.

Earlier, he said that any Government must have as its prime concern the elimination of inequalities which exist. The President said that a plan of action which has been put into action by the APNU+AFC administration speaks to addressing the inequalities and provides guidance to the administration in empowering the nation’s first peoples.

Minister Allicock called on all concerned to use the opportunity provided by the month-long celebrations to unify the country while promoting businesses and pursuing recommendations to improve the livelihoods in each community.

“We are a powerful country; we have natural resources; if we can find a way of understanding the value of this country we could all be able to benefit from those natural resources that we have,” he said.

Allicock also called on Guyanese to work hard to bridge the gap between the hinterland and coastland as the first peoples celebrate their heritage this month.

NTC Chairman Nicholas Fredericks called on the Government, the diplomatic community and other stakeholders to work with the indigenous people to bring an end to some of the pressing issues affecting them.

“It is a very important time as Guyana moves to preserve our country’s natural resources through the Green State Development Strategy,” he said.

Saturday afternoon’s proceedings saw performances from the Surama cultural Group and other groups from the Rupununi as well as a contingent from Suriname.

The celebrations will continue at the indigenous village at Sophia until September 5 when a cultural extravaganza as well as craft and food will be on display.

On September 15, all roads will lead to Shulinab Village in the Rupununi where Indigenous Heritage Village Day celebrations will be undertaken.