Indigenous peoples more vocal, involved in decision making – Min. Allicock
DPI, Guyana, Friday, January 19, 2018
Since the change of government, the Indigenous peoples of Guyana are more involved in decision-making processes and are free to speak on matters that affect their daily lives. This was pronouncement was made by the Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock, in an exclusive interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI).
Minister Allicock explained that when the Coalition government took office in 2015, it recognised a pattern of ‘dependency’ among the Indigenous peoples and a reluctance to speak freely on issues affecting them. There was also political and religious division among the first peoples.
To address these issues, this administration embarked on a series of outreaches to the various indigenous communities, and consultations with village leaders, the National Toshaos Council (NTC) and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)
Minister Alliccock said, “When we started first, people will question you with a hasty attitude ‘what is it you bring for us, the previous government used to bring tractors and gifts.” He explained, however, in most instances, brand new machines were laid up; some required batteries or not working because of improper management.
“The first thing that had to happen, is that we had to bring the people together and make them understand that unity is strength. That is what was happening over the past two years, we were able to bring the people together and encouraged them to tackle issues rather than personalities,” Minister Allicock stated.
On the issue of economic independence, Minister Allicock said that the Government would have sought to develop programmes such as the Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS), to assist villages in becoming more self-sustaining.
“To be able to achieve the plan of self-sustainability, to be able to be confident in one’s ability and to have economic strength base on their own imagination, is something that I believe that we see can happen in all the hinterland villages; but before that realisation, there is a lesson that must be told. There needed to be opportunities so that our young people and the elders can make that constitution for their own economic upliftment,” Minister Allicock emphasised.
Today, the Indigenous people are more vocal in terms of bringing ideas to the table for their own development, Minister Allicock reiterated. “We have challenges, we have our differences, but yes we also have become more involved in our decisions, discussions, and implementations. One of the contributing factors is getting the young people, through the HEYS programme, to understanding that sweating for what you need gives you that pride and confidence, and help you to value things more.”
Indigenous communities continue to be supported through the annual Presidential Grants, the Community Development Project (CDP) fund and backing for improved transportation, agriculture, tourism and training.
The government, through collaboration with a number of partners, is in the process of implementing the Hinterland Sustainable Development framework in several Region Nine communities. The framework is aimed at providing financial and technical support to Indigenous communities to help them achieve sustainable development targets.
By: Synieka Thorne
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