On Monday, June 17, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) will host an Indigenous Peoples Forum as part of its Annual Meeting in Ottawa. The event, titled “Catalysing Caribbean-Canada Collaboration on Indigenous Peoples Affairs for Resilient Prosperity,” represents a significant effort to bridge gaps and foster robust partnerships between Indigenous groups in the Caribbean and Canada.

This forum, a hybrid event, is set to explore a variety of pressing issues through a series of presentations, panel discussions, and roundtable sessions. By integrating voices from Indigenous communities, the CDB aims to create a platform where knowledge exchange and collaborative strategies can flourish. The forum will delve into key areas such as food security, climate resilience, economic empowerment, and legal frameworks, with a focus on building capacity and governance structures.

“Engagement with Indigenous Peoples is not just about inclusion but about ensuring their pivotal role in our development strategies,” said Dr. Martin Baptiste, CDB’s Division Chief for the Social Sector. “This forum underscores our commitment to transforming lives by advancing the social and economic empowerment of these communities,” he added.

Participants will include representatives from various Caribbean countries—Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. These delegates will engage with six Canadian representatives, including Elders and Knowledge Keepers from Canada’s major Indigenous groups, alongside academic experts. This gathering is poised to foster meaningful dialogue and collaboration on issues that are crucial to Indigenous communities in both regions.

The forum will address several critical themes. One of these is the exploration of alternative worldviews and decolonizing knowledge systems to integrate Indigenous perspectives into educational frameworks. Another key area of focus will be the protection of rights and ensuring accessibility to essential services for Indigenous Peoples.

Discussions will also emphasize promoting full participation of Indigenous communities in development processes and equitable benefit sharing. Strengthening both formal and informal governance mechanisms and enhancing capacity-building efforts will be pivotal to the forum’s agenda. Additionally, the exchange of cultural heritage and resources will be facilitated to support mutual understanding and collaboration among the participants.

In addition to discussions, the forum will feature a vibrant exhibition showcasing Indigenous arts and crafts. This physical and digital exhibition aims to highlight the significant contributions of Indigenous communities to the region’s cultural mosaic. Visitors will have the opportunity to explore traditional and contemporary artworks that reflect the rich heritage and creativity of these communities.

An Indigenous Peoples Resource Corner will also be available, offering a wealth of research materials and resources for deeper exploration of Indigenous cultures and their impact on regional development.

The Caribbean Development Bank has long been dedicated to the empowerment of Indigenous Peoples. In 2023, the CDB organized training workshops for community development professionals, many of whom are Indigenous. This effort, along with the inclusion of Indigenous voices in the Suriname Country Engagement Strategy, underscores the Bank’s commitment to ensuring that Indigenous perspectives are integral to its developmental agenda.


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