The Canadian-funded project Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) hosted a ‘Seminar on the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ with the Indian Law Resource Center on October 9th, and with the University of Guyana, a ‘Meeting to Discuss the Formation of a CARICOM Association of Indigenous Persons’ on October 10th -11th, 2017. Both meetings were held at the Ramada Georgetown Princess Hotel in Georgetown, Guyana.
The Right Honourable Sir Dennis Byron, President of the Caribbean Court of Justice, delivered the featured address at the Opening Ceremony which was attended by Madam Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, O.R., Chancellor of the Judiciary, the Honourable Sydney Allicock, Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, the Honourable Valerie Garrido-Lowe, Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, other members of the Judiciary of Guyana, and specially invited guests from the University of Guyana and the CARICOM Secretariat.
Delegates of the three-day historic meeting also included representatives of the Garifuna from Belize and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the First Peoples of Trinidad & Tobago, the Maya of Belize, Amerindian groups from Guyana and Suriname, and the Saramacca of Suriname. The discussions focused on the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the formation of a CARICOM Indigenous Persons Association.
At the end of the meeting, the following statement was issued by the participants:
“Representatives of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (ITPs) of the Caribbean Region have gathered in Georgetown, Guyana from 09 – 11 October 2017 to pause and reflect on the status of the fulfillment and protection of our rights, as reflected in, among others, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The meeting was convened by IMPACT Justice, a Project funded by the Government of Canada.
We have concluded that there are many commonalities and similar concerns, challenges but also opportunities among the indigenous and tribal peoples of the Caribbean region. The meeting concluded that we need to have a stronger voice, strengthen solidarity, have more effective influence on policies that affect us and proactively undertake our self-determined actions. We have therefore decided to establish a Network of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Caribbean Region with immediate effect. Over the next few months, further networking and consultations will take place, both at national and at regional level to give the network further form and content.”