Jun 06, 2018 News
Following the recent issue of a student’s indigenous attire being deemed “inappropriate” by Mae’s Schools Administration for its Culture Day activities, representatives of the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA), two members of the School’s Administration, the parents of the child and a reporter met Monday afternoon to discuss concerns relating to the highly publicized incident that sparked protests.
The meeting, which was requested by the APA took place at the Association’s Charlotte Street office and consisted of Executive Director, Jean La Rose; GIS Specialist and Forest Policy Officer, Michael McGarrell; Communications and Visibility Officer, Nicholas Peters; Mae’s Schools Director, Stacey French; Administrator, Lucinda McCurdy; the student’s parents, Jason Chacon and Karen Small as well as Natasha Smith, reporter and one of the organizers of the demonstrations which took place as a result of the incident.
According to a statement, the meeting represented the first occasion that the mother of the child was able to recount directly to the School’s top Administration how the incident took place and to express her concerns about its impact on her son.
Ms. Small also addressed some of the inaccuracies contained in a statement released by the school on the matter.
While the school‘s representative said she was not happy about inaccurate media reporting that the child was not allowed to enter the school, the APA for its part said that the issue was bigger than whether the child was allowed entry or not, that it was a matter much larger.
The issue was about deeming a people’s culture inappropriate, resulting in the child feeling that he should dislike his culture after being made to feel uncomfortable in his dress.
After some back and forth on the matter, and with the APA stressing on what culture really means to indigenous peoples in Guyana, the school’s Director agreed that she would apologise to the young man.
She apologised for the turn the incident took and for the trauma that he experienced shortly after.
“She did not, however, go so far as to say she would issue a public apology. She said that she had to confer on this. The APA felt that this was necessary and as a people, they had been hurt.”
The APA further stated that the incident should be used both as a teaching and learning opportunity for the student and faculty body of the school. The association suggested that it can help the school sensitize students and others to larger issues affecting indigenous peoples and their role in society.
“To that end, the school has agreed to host a session in collaboration with the APA to inform its body of indigenous culture and overcoming the negative stereotypes which continue to exist.”
The APA said it sees the outcome of this meeting as a step in the right direction towards resolving the incident and addressing cultural prejudices that may persist today.
“The APA would also like to take this opportunity to thank those persons who stood together in advocating for the rights of the young student, his family and indigenous peoples across Guyana.”
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