The Arawak community of Orealla in the Berbice River, which has been declared the country’s Amerindian Heritage village of 2009, is gearing up for the celebrations despite controversy over its leadership.
Chief Justice Ian Chang recently issued an order against Amerindian Affairs Minister, Pauline Sukhai, who had supported the disqualification and ineligibility of John King from contesting for the post of Toshao/Captain at the Orealla/Siparuta Village Council Elections, which were held on April 28 last.
Yesterday, legal counsel for the Minister asked the Court for leave to file an affidavit in answer to the ruling of the Chief Justice.
The Chief Justice in his ruling directed an order to the Amerindian Affairs Minister, compelling her to declare the April 28 election invalid and set a date for new elections, unless cause is shown why the order should not be made absolute.
The order was served on the Minister last week.
King was prevented from contesting the post on the grounds that he was not a permanent resident of the community for the past three years. This resulted in McLean De Vair and his team of Councilors being declared winners.
By virtue of the Chief Justice’s order, DeVair ought not to be functioning in the capacity of Toshao, but Sukhai yesterday named him as one of the speakers at the opening ceremony of Amerindian Heritage Month which is slated for next Tuesday at the Sophia Exhibition Complex in Georgetown.
Asked about how the controversy over leadership is impacting the community’s status as this year’s Heritage village, Sukhai said “Orealla is proceeding favourably with their preparations.”
Amerindian Heritage Month is used by the government to promote the cultures of Guyana’s Amerindian communities.
Sukhai said there was nothing “special” about Orealla being selected for the Heritage Village celebrations which will be held on September 11. Community leaders had written the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs requesting to be the choice for Amerindian Heritage village.
The government this year is spending $13 million to host the month-long series of activities to mark Amerindian Heritage Month, Sukhai revealed.
The opening ceremony will be held at the Amerindian village constructed at Sophia for the Caribbean Festival of Arts, which was held last August. The village is made up of the different styles of traditional Amerindian houses.
From September 1, there will be six “Cultural Nights & Food and Craft Extravaganza.” This will be held at the Umana Yana in Kingston, Georgetown. From September 7-11, a select group of students from the Region Nine communities of Karasabai and Aishalton will be brought to Georgetown and would be taken on a tour around Georgetown. On September 11, an exhibition will be put on at the Amerindian village to highlight the life and work of Mr. Stephen Campbell, the first Amerindian to enter the Parliament of Guyana.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr Frank Anthony, said his Ministry is supporting the celebrations again this year. Mainly, Anthony spoke about his support for a “Sports Weekend” which will be held from September 19-20 at the Guyana Defence Force ground, Camp Ayanganna, Thomas Lands.
Anthony also announced that his Ministry is scheduled to put on an exhibition titled “Glimpses of Amazonia” at the Umana Yana on September 19. The exhibition will showcase the life and cultures of the indigenous peoples of Guyana, Suriname, Peru and Brazil.
The celebrations will climax with the bi-annual Amerindian Heritage Pageant, which is billed for September 26 at the National Cultural Center.
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