The National Toshaos Council’s (NTC’s) conference of 2018 opened on Monday with incumbent Chairman Joel Fredericks blasting Government for a number of unfulfilled promises.
According to Fredericks, the indigenous peoples of Guyana were promised a number of things, such as the revision of the Amerindian Act of 2006; Constitutional reform, and land to build an NTC Secretariat.
Chairman Fredericks contended that, for three years, the NTC listened carefully to every indigenous people’s policy Government had announced. However, in those three years, trust has been eroded by Government’s failure to effectively act on promises made.
“Bit by bit, word by word, policy by policy, we saw the vision being eroded and drawn down… We were promised Land Commission, respect for our land rights,
and living in a lawful society. We were promised the revision of the Amerindian Act, constitutional reform, and in 2016 we were promised a plot of land for the NTC Secretariat,” Fredericks charged.
“As leaders, every time we make promises and break them, we erode the trust people have in us and our integrity… People gravitate to tangible things, such as their land and rights. On Heritage Day in Pakuri 2017, the people of Pakuri were promised their name change. In February of 2018, we were promised a meeting with His Excellency… And you know what? St. Cuthbert’s is still St. Cuthbert’s,” he charged.
When her turn came to address the gathering, Minister within the Indigenous People’s Affairs Ministry, Valerie Garrido-Lowe, pleaded with toshaos to exercise patience, noting that Government is working to improve indigenous people’s lives. At the same time, she acknowledged that much remains to be done.
President David Granger had sought to stress that Government still remains committed to providing a better life for indigenous peoples. He alluded to transportation for school children as one of several measures Government has implemented in hinterland areas, and noted that the NTC itself has a lot of work to do for the indigenous people.