Indigenous land rights inches closer to reality

─ residents of Karasabi to work with neighbouring communities to demarcate their boundaries

DPI, Guyana, Monday, August 26, 2019

“Growing up, Indigenous people in my village were struggling for land titles, and they want to know that this land is theirs. So, now that they will know, I am sure they are going to be happy and satisfied,” said Steffi Albert, a young accountant from Karasabai.

Albert was giving her take during the meeting held last Friday in Karasabai on land demarcation, that was hosted by Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Hon. Sydney Allicock.

Albert was accompanied by her sister, Shevina Albert, who also works as an accountant within the community.  “I think it is important so we must not have conflict. We have to know what is ours – what belongs to us,” Shevina commented.

Scores of residents and members of Karasabai’s village council attended the August 23 meeting at Karasabai Primary School. Minister Allicock presented the community with maps from the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) that show Karasabai and sections of its neighbouring villages. This is another effort by the government towards having the Indigenous village demarcated.

“My proposal to you is to work towards a date that you would be comfortable with, for the organization of a technical team to be part of that process, including Toka, Massara, Yakarinta and Annai […] to help in the discussion,” Minister Allicock noted.

He petitioned the Toshaos from neighbouring communities, Community Development Officers, senior Councillors and the residents by extension, to ensure that they collaborate on the mapping of Karasabai’s boundaries.

“We want to do this properly because we have seen villages right now are disagreeing among themselves and with other communities […] So, you have maps, you have your discussion and, in that way, I believe we can eventually have the boundary [of Karasabai] properly demarcated.”

On September 27, 1991, the Government of Guyana officially recorded Karasaibai as an Indigenous community located on state lands. However, the village has not been demarcated since that date. The Coalition Government has Karasabai on a list among 67 other Indigenous communities to be demarcated.

In 2013, the Amerindian Land Titling and Demarcation project that began and lasted until 2016, after which a two-year extension was requested. This ended in October 2018. An additional extension until December 2021 was granted to ensure the 68 indigenous villages are demarcated and land titles issued.

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