Amerindian Heritage Month: PPP/C Govt will continue improving lives of Amerindian citizens – President Ali
– says updated Amerindian Act will protect Indigenous peoples’ rights
President Dr Irfaan Ali on Tuesday stated that his Administration is wholeheartedly committed to improving the lives of the Amerindian citizens over the next five years and beyond.
He noted that the Government will build on its past record of promoting and supporting Amerindian rights and development.
In his message to Guyana’s first peoples on the occasion of Amerindian Heritage Month 2021, the Head of State explained that the dedication of the month is in accordance with the well-deserved recognition and honour which is due to Amerindians and their contributions to Guyana’s development.
“As I noted in my address to the 12th Parliament of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, our Indigenous peoples have been here longer than any other group and occupy a special place as our first people. They too have suffered injustices at the hands of our former colonial masters; they also have suffered dispossession and decimation,” the President stated in his message.
Further, he stated that an updated Amerindian Act will become the principal legal instrument for the protection of Indigenous peoples’ rights, including guarantees of their entitlement to their lands and rights over those lands.
The updated “Act” will entrench provisions that will promote greater Amerindian inclusion in decision-making and greater integration in national development. It will outline an enhanced role for Amerindians in the management of their communities and control over their resources, including measures aimed at protecting the environment and ensuring sustainable development.
As promised, President Ali stated that his Government has begun to adopt measures to improve access to the delivery of education, health services, housing, and infrastructure within Amerindian communities.
“Through the injection of resources into the Amerindian Development Fund, we are also stimulating economic projects in Amerindian villages, thereby generating jobs and providing incomes.”
“Transportation and connectivity are being enhanced. We have been providing resources for improving roads, bridges and airfields in the hinterland. We have also removed VAT on the cost of hinterland travel to make such travel more affordable. Access to Information Communication Technology (ICT) is also being increased across our Indigenous communities through the creation of hubs for learning, work and leisure.”
He added that the lives of Amerindians are being made better, noting that since the PPP/C assumed office, it has brought relief to the Amerindian peoples while making reference to Government’s $25,000 household grant, the education/school grant, and the resuscitation of the Community Support Officers scheme.
“Hinterland education is being boosted. Schools are being built and renovated. ICT will become a driver of improved hinterland education, and more hinterland students will benefit from scholarships.
Amerindians can look forward to continued investments by the Government in hinterland electricity through an expanded renewable energy programme for indigenous villages.”
The President posited that Amerindian culture is an integral part of the rich multicultural tapestry of our nation and as such, they will continue to preserve and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Guyana’s Amerindian peoples, including their languages, religious and other beliefs, values, traditions, food, art, craft, symbols, dances, music and dances.
Indigenous culture will be treasured, safeguarded from erasure or debasement.
“As we celebrate Amerindian Heritage Month this year, let us do so in the knowledge that despite the present challenges posed by floods and the COVID-19 pandemic, our Amerindians can be assured that their future is secure. They can look forward to ever-improving standards of living and greater opportunities because of the support and recognition which my Government is paying to Amerindian rights and development,” President Ali added.
Meanwhile, he wished every success to the moderated events which will be hosted this year to celebrate Amerindian Heritage Month as we celebrate their rich cultural legacy and contributions to Guyana’s development.