Amerindian Act, CoI to top agenda

at 2017 Toshao’s conference

The controversial Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into Amerindian land titling, along with the Amerindian Act are among the top issues that will form the basis of this year’s National Toshao’s Conference, Chairman Joel Fredricks has said.

The Conference is scheduled for August 21-26 at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) and will be held under the theme “Good governance – A brighter future for Guyana’s first peoples”.

Speaking to <<<Guyana Times>>> on Wednesday, Fredricks said the “burning issues” that have been a burden to members of the Indigenous community will be brought to the fore at the five-day confab.

“Some of the burning issues that will be discussed are the revision of the Amerindian Act, mining and health issues, education and the CoI,” he told Guyana Times during a telephone interview on Wednesday.

Even among that list, Fredrick said there are matters that will take precedence, such as the revision of the Amerindian Act. The Chairman said there still remain issues with land titling and the Act must be addressed.

Earlier this year the Toshao’s Council had begun a process, collaborating with the Amerindian People’s Association (APA) to begin consultation for the revision of the Act, which both bodies believe is very much outdated. Details of the Act include focus on land rights, mining, logging, decision-making and governance, among other things.

Following the Amerindian Act is the Commission of Inquiry set up by Government in March to investigate land titling in Amerindian communities. And although the Toshao’s Council was able to influence the temporary halting of the investigation, Fredricks said the Council and residents are not clear about the functions of the CoI. He maintains too that there was no consultation.

Mining and land titling remain issues of deep concern for residents in the Amerindian communities. Those will also take preference at the Conference.

Meanwhile, Fredricks said apart from the hiccup of finding a venue for the Conference, systems have already been put in place for the smooth running of the five-day event.

“For the preparations so far we had some challenges in identifying a venue for the Conference because the Arthur Chung Convention Centre is currently under renovation. We were able to get the CPCE and will be visiting there tomorrow (today).