Sydney Allicock, vice-president of Guyana and minister of indigenous people’s affairs, brought a message of “Together we will be strong, Unity is strength” to Canadian First Nations people last Sunday at Trent University in Peterborough.
On Saturday at the Guyana Consulate, the Guyana Diaspora held hands in love and unity as they prayed for guidance for their plans for Guyana’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in Toronto.
At the consulate, Honourary Consul General Sattie Sawh, chair of the 50th Independence Anniversary (Canada) Committee, presented the various leaders responsible for their respective activities and introduced the website for detailed information: www.guy50canada.com.
Then they broke bread together, relishing a delicious Guyanese meal as they learned that Caribbean Airlines (CAL) will carry the 50th independence anniversary logo as a result of a partnership between the government of Guyana and the airline.
“Guyana is a keen and growing destination for Caribbean Airlines and we do not take it lightly the contribution of our valued Guyanese customers,” CAL Chairman Mark Phillips said at a branding ceremony earlier this year.
At Trent University, Allicock, was introduced at the 40th annual Elders and Traditional Peoples Gathering, by Guyana-born Dr. Suresh Narine, professor and director of the Trent Centre for Biomaterials Research, as the “father of tourism” in Guyana.
“His life has been a journey of sharing Guyanese indigenous people’s cultures with the rest of the world in an equitable and proud fashion,” said Narine.
Through an agreement with Trent, Narine has been volunteering since 2005 as director of the National Institute of Applied Science and Technology in Guyana and commutes once a month.
He told The Camera, “One of the issues Guyana has is that it imports all of its fossil fuels but has arable land, water resources, low population density and available labour.”
As a result, the institute developed local technology for biofuels and there is a community in the hinterland that has been operating solely on biofuels produced from palm oil since 2006, employing 120 people.
In light of the 2016 gathering entitled Rekindling the Fire: Reconciliation and the Way Forward honouring the recent historic release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Allicock said, “Our government vows to ensure that the indigenous peoples of Guyana are treated with respect and that our rights enshrined in national and international law are guaranteed.
“This is the principle aspect of healing and reconciliation for us.”
Allicock, who followed in the footsteps of former foreign minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, the first woman of indigenous heritage to hold that position, said there are four indigenous members of cabinet and noted he is the first indigenous person appointed vice-president of Guyana, evidence of the government’s seriousness in recognizing indigenous people.
Guyana’s Minister of Education Nicolette Henry, co-chair of the National Commemorative Commission, was unable to attend the event at the Guyana Consulate. However, she said earlier that in May 2016 as Guyana turns 50 it will be a significant opportunity for all Guyanese to reflect and celebrate, including the Diaspora.
She said then that she hopes that as “we celebrate this 50th year of our independence, all Guyanese will celebrate our oneness as we move forward together with unity.”