Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai said the late advocate for Amerindian rights Stephen Campbell would have been pleased
to see how government has created avenues for Amerindians to benefit from and be assimilated into every aspect of national life.
Sukhai made these comments in her address at a memorial exhibition titled “Reflection on Mr. Stephen Campbell and Amerindian Development” which was hosted as part of series of events being held for Amerindian Heritage Month at the Umana Yana. Prime Minister Samuel Hinds was among guests in the packed audience, a press release from the Government Information Agency (GINA) said.
Born in the Moruca sub-district of Region One in 1928, Campbell was the first Amerindian to enter the Legislative Council of the then British Guiana. He entered the National Labour Front in 1957 in a bid to represent the interest of the Amerindian society where his greatest achievement towards this effort was the move to craft the Amerindian Act. Campbell’s work was also pivotal to the development of improved health facilities and agriculture in the North West District of Region One.
“Today we gather to reflect on the contribution of a very important Amerindian who walked Guyana,” Sukhai said in her presentation. She said Campbell’s work and contribution during his political tenure are today more noticeable and evident, as they have been impacting on the life of Amerindians. This work, she said, laid the foundation for others, such as late Minister Dr Desrey Fox to follow.
Sukhai said that as a politician Campbell would have been happy to note that while he was the pioneer there were many who followed in his footsteps, many who had “taken the bold action to ensure that they directly make representation on behalf of their constituency.” Touching on Campbell’s work in land titling, the minister said that he would have been pleased at the strides government has made. “Instead of the 64 communities which Campbell would have made representation for, today instead we are on the verge of granting 109 land titles,” she noted. Sukhai also highlighted numerous and encompassing developments taking place in the Amerindian communities, particularly improved and more easily accessible education.
Regarding the exhibition, GINA Representative Leslyn Lowe said having travelled extensively across the country with President Bharrat Jagdeo, Cabinet ministers and other government officials the agency has a wealth of photographs depicting development in Amerindian communities such as Masakenari and popular areas as Lethem and Mabaruma. “GINA has in its collection, chronicled the life of Amerindians, events in their communities and most importantly developments, hence it would only be fitting that it showcases what has been taking place.”
Campbell’s grand-daughter Anna Correia-Bevaun, shared some memories of her grandfather and some tales about his family life as remembered by stories told to her by her grand-mother. In addition, Lauren Pierre used extracts from Campbell’s personal diary, along with what was written of him by some noteworthy persons, including late President L.F.S Burnham, in her reflection on his life.