Guyana participates in OAS special meeting to commemorate the first inter-american week for indigenous peoples of the Americas

Press Release, Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Friday, August 10, 2018

On August 9, 2018, Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Riyad Insanally led Guyana’s Delegation to a Special Meeting of the OAS Permanent Council as part of the commemoration of the First Inter-American Week for Indigenous Peoples, on August 6-10, 2018. The delegation also consisted of Mrs. Lesley Dowridge-Collins, Deputy Chief of Mission and Mr. Jason Fields, Alternate Representative.

Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Riyad Insanally

The purpose of the week’s activities and the Special Meeting, in particular, was to recognize the contributions made by Indigenous Peoples across the Hemisphere and to promote dialogue on forward-looking policies regarding the protection of their rights and the advancement of their social inclusion in the Americas.

In his remarks to the Permanent Council, Ambassador Insanally highlighted the fact that Guyana is home to nine indigenous nations, who make up about 10-11 percent of the population and “occupy a special place in our country’s rich tapestry”. In this respect, he informed the meeting of some of the measures the Government of Guyana is taking in order to improve the socio-economic conditions of the First Peoples, through allocations in the National Budget to key sectors, such as health, education, housing, infrastructure and youth enterprise training, with a dedicated Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs charged with keeping their special interests in the mainstream of national policy and planning. The Ambassador also made specific reference, among other things, to the Ministry’s indigenous language revival programme; the establishment of the Amerindian Land Titling Project Management Unit and the Grievance Redress Mechanism; the key role anticipated for the Indigenous Peoples, as “the traditional guardians of our environment”, in the rolling out of the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS); the process of developing and implementing a 10-year Village Improvement Plan, focused on incorporating indigenous communities into environmental management and development, in line with their knowledge and traditional practices; and President David Granger’s commitment to increasing the subvention for the work of the Toshaos, at the 12th Annual National Toshaos Conference, last month.

 In conclusion, Ambassador Insanally stated that the Government of Guyana highly values the role played by Indigenous Peoples in Guyana’s national development efforts, adding, “whilst we rightly celebrate our indigenous heritage, we should also be considering anew how we balance traditionalist views of our Indigenous Peoples with their own desire to be fully integrated into the socio-economic, cultural and political life of our country. After all, they are the people who started Guyana.”

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