Year of Indigenous Languages to be launched on Jan. 19

─ historic event will be officially declared open by PM Nagamootoo, performing duties of President

─ $36M was allocated in the 2019 National Budget to promote the 9 Indigenous Languages

DPI, Guyana, Friday, January 18, 2019

On Saturday, January 19, the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs will launch the International Year of the Indigenous Languages in Aishalton Village, South Rupununi, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo, Region 9.

This historic event will be officially declared open by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo performing the duties of President, who will be delivering the keynote address. He will be joined by Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock and Minister within the Ministry, Valerie Garrido-Lowe, among other officials.

An Indigenous man and woman of Shulinab Village in the South Rupununi, Region 9.

The United Nations has declared 2019 – The International Year of Indigenous Languages, to raise awareness of the consequences of the endangerment of Indigenous languages across the world. It aims to establish a link between language, development, peace, and reconciliation.

On December 19, 2016, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly proclaimed 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages based on a resolution of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The General Assembly’s resolution requested the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as the lead UN agency for coordination of the year.

The International Year of Indigenous Languages aims to focus attention on the risks confronting indigenous languages, especially those significant for development, reconciliation, good governance and peacebuilding. It also aims to improve the quality of life, wider international cooperation and visibility and strengthened intercultural dialogue to reaffirm the continuity of indigenous languages and cultures.

Activities planned for the year will be in the three thematic areas; supporting the revitalisation and maintenance of indigenous languages through the creation of more materials and content; preserving indigenous languages, creating access to education, information and knowledge in and about indigenous languages for indigenous children, young people and adults; and mainstreaming the knowledge areas and values of indigenous peoples and cultures within broader social-cultural economic and political domains, as well as cultural practices such as traditional sports and games.

In Guyana, the sum of $36M was allocated in the 2019 National Budget to promote the 9 Indigenous Languages, through collaboration with the UN’s Indigenous Peoples Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Among activities proposed throughout the year are a Language Revival Programme, Village Welcome Signboards to be erected at the entrance of each village in their respective language, Radio and Television programmes, a Children’s Book, a Tourist Hand Book, a Short Story competition, debates in four languages (Patamona, Akawaio, Wapishana and Makushi) at the Umana Yana, an Indigenous Food festival, a Calendar of Nations 2019 and establishment of an Indigenous Summer School.

Synieka Thorne.

Image: Keno George.

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