A motion has been submitted to the National Assembly by Alliance for Change (AFC) Member of Parliament (MP), Juretha Fernandes, to have the name of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs to revert to the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs. The motion laid on September 1, was seconded by AFC MP, Devin Sears.
The Amerindian Affairs Ministry was changed to the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs when the Coalition won the May 2015 Elections. Fernandes, during a virtual AFC press conference earlier today, said that this name change was due to request made by key Indigenous organisations and Indigenous people across Guyana.
Now that the People’ Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) is in office, it proceeded with the naming of an “Amerindian Affairs Minister” to preside over the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. Notices coming out of the ministry all bear the header “Ministry of Amerindian Affairs” and not “Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs”.
“We can also note that the preamble of the Constitution of Guyana refers to the first people of this nation also, as Indigenous people. One of the most important things also…You will see that the [United Nations] General Assembly on the thirteenth of September 2007, would have addressed the rights and concerns of the Indigenous People across the world. Again, reaffirming the name to be ‘Indigenous People’,” she said.
Fernandes quoted a section of the resolution of the declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples: “affirming that Indigenous People are equal to all other people, while recognizing the rights of all other people to different; to consider themselves different and to be respected as such”.
She said that the signage being put up to commemorate “Amerindian Heritage Month” is “highly disrespectful and hopes that serious consideration is taken forthwith to have the renaming.