By Abena Rockcliffe
As this year’s National Toshaos Conference got underway yesterday at the Guyana International Conference Center (GICC), indigenous leaders were urged to remain humble, be committed and maintain a positive attitude; a prompt which, by the applause given, seemed in sync with the resolve of those gathered.
That was the plea by Chairman of the National Toshaos Council, Derrick John as he addressed those who congregated at the event.
The four-day biennial conference is being held under the theme “Harnessing the Power of our Leadership.”
The event attracted Amerindians leaders from the 200 indigenous communities across Guyana.
John, in his address to the forum, expressed his belief that humility, commitment and a positive attitude are all traits of good leaders and encouraged that those key leadership qualities be emulated.
He charged leaders to exhibit greater accountability and transparency in the management of resources entrusted to them for the development of Amerindian villages.
The Chairman said that the leaders must never betray the trust people have placed in them and at all times strive to be honest in their partnership with the state and the management of its resources.
Even as he lauded the development within Amerindian communities John acknowledged that there have been many challenges. He said that more can be expected in the future.
“We as leader will make mistakes” but he again stressed the need for humility. “We must be humble enough to make corrections and to take advice.”
The Chairman called on the people to “work together, achieve together and celebrate together.” He had special thanks for the Government for making this year’s conference a reality; earlier in the year there were widespread doubts that it would happen.
While several Government Ministers, including Attorney General, Anil Nandlall who is currently embroiled in several issues were present, Amerindian Affairs Minister, Pauline Sukhai missed it. Kaieteur News understands that the Minister is “sick.”
President Donald Ramotar, who delivered the feature address, boasted about the various developments made. He said that he is proud of the best practices encouraged by the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs in all Amerindian villages.
President Ramotar said that Amerindians account for 9.7% of the population and occupy 14.1% of the land mass. He boasted that Amerindians have more privileges in Guyana than any other first peoples of other nations around the world.
The President said that the Amerindians are the fastest growing race of people in Guyana. He added‘ that he hopes that the fact that there is now electricity in more Amerindian communities can help in that regard.
He said in an effort to make the nation’s motto: “One People, One Nation, One Destiny” more than just a slogan, the administration continues to ensure equal opportunities for all Guyanese.
The Head of State reminded that Amerindians were historically disadvantaged. Their fundamental needs were ignored. However, his administration has taken a different approach, using the country’s resources to benefit all people.
“We believe that the most important factor to develop is people, therefore it is important that we develop their capacity,” Ramotar said; adding that “we see great growth potential in Amerindian communities which can contribute largely to national development.”
President Ramotar also spoke of improved access to education and health care in Amerindian villages along with several projects on stream to improve the economic standing of those communities.
The four-day event will allow the Amerindian Leaders to share their experiences, challenges and ideas for development with the President, his Government and other stakeholders.
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