Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs

National Toshoas Council

Press statement – Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs.

The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs notes with interest the recent media outings of the National Toshoas Council’s (NTC) Executive Committee and in particular its Vice Chairman on certain matters. The Ministry has observed a trend of public posturing by this body and indeed this officer. The NTC executive has so far not distanced itself from these rather divisive, disingenuous and sometimes incoherent statements.

The Ministry is reassured that the positions taken on these matters are not reflective of the thinking of the wider NTC and the general population of Indigenous Guyanese citizens.

The NTC is on record as having written to His Excellency President Granger on certain matters. Much of these writings are confrontational, demanding and disrespectful to the Office of President of Guyana. Simultaneous with calls for meetings with His Excellency President David Granger, Lennox Shuman, Vice Chairman of the NTC issued a call for mass public protest against the Government of Guyana by our Indigenous Citizenry. The Ministry will allow the Guyanese public to judge Shuman’s intentions.

This current NTC Executive has never ceased to condemn the sixteen (16) million dollars subvention provided it by Government.  This executive of the NTC is nearing the end of its three year term in office and is yet to explain to its membership and the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs why it continues to resist the legislative obligation of accounting for the finances placed at its disposal. It is a statutory obligation of the NTC’s Executive Committee to prepare and present ‘Annual Reports’ of its financial operations, a requirement which it has never satisfied. Indeed the general Indigenous Peoples’ population of Guyana remains expectant yet that this Joel Fredericks led Executive will fulfill this obligatory function.

From the tone and content of a recently reported Stabroek News ‘interview’ it appears that the NTC’s Chairman and Vice Chairman are satisfied with opposition political interference into the affairs of the NTC. This is not unexpected.  All of Guyana remains aware of the treatment of Indigenous Peoples by the People’s Progressive Party while in government. The task of ensuring that there was no political interference by Government since May 2015 was a simple and successful one.

However, it remains clear to all who can see that the ill effects of political domination, control and intimidation which formed the basis of PPP governance will take some more time to undo. The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs is assured and confident that the true will of Guyana’s Indigenous Peoples shall before long prevail.

The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs has always been aware of the countless complaints of disrespectful and inhumane treatment of the residents of St. Cuthbert’s Mission by Lennox Shuman. The horrifying stories told by residents of this one hundred and twenty-nine years old Village of proud mostly Lokonos range from threats of dispossessing them of lands for disobeying Shuman to referring to residents as “refugees” as well as forcibly expelling church leaders from the Village. Residents paint a picture of a leviathan Toshoa. This is inconsistent with known and revered traditional leadership, love and respect for others.

This obviously failed leader is now being rejected by his village, save for members of his immediate family. Not being in a position to secure re-election, Shuman seeks to create an exit strategy which leaves him unscathed while destroying much of well-constructed fabric of Indigenous Peoples’ customary governance, culture and practices.

Such actions are ill-advised, divisive, counterproductive and inimical to the forward progression of the national Indigenous Peoples’ developmental agenda. The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs rejects the Shuman-led attack against Guyana’s Indigenous Peoples. The Ministry believes that the upcoming Village elections provide a vehicle for the resolution of all of these issues by the people themselves. The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs remains resolute in its mandate to provide the good life to its constituents.