Heritage Month 2013 was officially launched last evening with warm spirits and high expectations for the remaining activities that will mark the 19th year of official Amerindian celebrations in Guyana.
The event was hosted at the Amerindian Village in the National Exhibitions Complex, Sophia and saw a turnout of hundreds of Indigenous peoples from the various Administrative Regions.
Among those in attendance were His Excellency President Donald Ramotar, First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai, other Ministers of Government and members of the Diplomatic Corps.
As the evening’s events unfolded, much emphasis was placed on the appropriately chosen theme, “Honouring our Culture; Advancing our Future”.
According to Chairman of the National Toshoas’ Council, Derrick John, a reflection into the lives of Amerindian ancestors should push the current generation to do what is necessary so as to preserve the rich culture for future generations. John pointed out that it is as a result of the First Peoples bold initiatives that the present generations are able to enjoy and reap the blessings of what was fought for in the past.
“It is our role to uphold our culture. If we are not proud of who we are, then we don’t have a future,” the Chairman declared.
Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai supported the Chairman’s admonition, noting that although there is much work to be done, the wealth of rich traditions, customs and cultural heritage is invaluable. She applauded the villages who continue to lead the way in sustaining the rich culture and uniqueness of Amerindians.
The Minister said that the month of September offers Amerindians the opportunity to reflect on the progress made so far and how much has been achieved.
“September is the month dedicated to the official observance of the development, prospects, challenges and perspectives of the Heritage of Guyana’s first people.”
She noted also that Government recognizes the importance of indigenous people to be free to practice their traditions and cultures. Hence, support is granted by the Amerindian Act of 2006, which, according to the Minister, offers a legal requirement to pursue, maintain, protect and develop manifestations of Amerindian culture.
As such, she urged those in attendance to commit to furthering development and cultivation of their heritage while preparing themselves with the attitudes necessary to take full advantage of what has been made available currently.
The President, delivering his remarks also noted that the celebration is important since it “offers all the opportunity to reflect on the distance travelled.” He, too, applauded the choice of the theme, stating that “culture is a living thing, so we should strive, not only to preserve it, but also to enrich and develop it.”
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