President David Granger on Saturday called on Indigenous communities to craft effective Village Improvement Plans, which will guide development in their respective villages.
A Ministry of the Presidency statement said that he was at the time speaking at the Heritage Village celebrations at Pakuri Village, which is soon to become the official name of what has been known as St. Cuthbert’s Mission.
The President said that for villages to move forward they must be guided by a plan that is built on the pillars of education, employment for all, environmental protection and economic diversity. This, he said, “will help Pakurians to work systematically, year after year, to help make sure that they achieve their objectives and they provide that good life that we all desire”.
In relation to job creation, the President said that every single resident can find gainful employment in their community but to do so, they must improve their methods of farming, agro-processing, logging and craft making and manufacturing so that they can compete.
“We can provide full employment in Guyana; right here in these villages… I am confident that every single Indigenous child in this country can get full employment by using the resources found in their village and they can do this because of the traditional knowledge and we have to be able to access the markets more aggressively,” Granger said.
Granger said that while it is important to maintain traditional economic activity, the time has come for more focus to be placed on non-traditional value added production.
“Let us look to economic diversification. Everything you can produce can be processed. Everything you grew up eating can be processed, could be packaged, can be bottled and sold in the Caribbean or in the supermarkets in Guyana,” he asserted.
Meanwhile, Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock, handed over a quantity of musical instruments to the community, which has a vibrant cultural group. Toshao of Pakuri Village, Lenox Shuman disclosed that his community is currently in the process of reaching out to partners to support the development of a comprehensive music and performing arts programme. In this regard, the release said that the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs provided a guitar, tambourines and drums.
Head of the National Toshaos Council, Joel Fredericks was reported in the release as saying that it is “very evident that the current Administration is committed to the development of Indigenous Guyanese”. He said that this is demonstrated by the fact that the Government has increased the budgetary allocation to the NTC from $12M to $16M, provided a plot of land for the construction of the secretariat for the Council and has started to work towards the revising of the Amerindian Act of 2006.
The Heritage Village celebrations saw hundreds of people from all walks of life gathered to enjoy and participate in the cultural activities.