Huge Amerindian delegation at Toronto's Guyana Independence Festival
Five Guyanese, three organizations awarded
Stabroek News
May 28, 2002

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Representatives of nine Amerindian tribes in Guyana travelled to Canada to display Amerindian heritage through authentic songs and dance at the Guyana Independence Festival, which is in its seventh year.

According to a press release from the Guyana Consulate in Toronto, thousands of Guyanese resident in Canada braved cold weather to enjoy the festivities.

The theme of the festival was 'The Future is Ours...Together'. And the release quoted its patron, Consul General, Danny Doobay, as saying: "It is a working model of togetherness and success that our committee wishes to share with our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, particularly those in Guyana."

The festival was held from May 17 - 19 and commenced with an investment seminar under the theme: 'Guyana: Innovative Investment Opportunities - Achieve a higher return from the comfort of North America'.

The release said that the seminar targeted businesses and individuals who are interested in investing in Guyana from North America. Doobay provided an overview of Guyana as the gateway into South America and its many concomitant opportunities. Among the facilitators were Head of Go-Invest, Geoffrey Da Silva; Chairman of Demerara Distillers Ltd Group of Companies, Yesu Persaud; and Price Water House Coopers consultant, Basil Punit.

After the seminar, the four-year award winning El Dorado rums were officially launched in Ontario.

Also on Friday, the release said, five Guyanese and three Guyanese organisations received the Guyana Independence Awards, presented at the annual dinner. This year's recipients were Cecil Moore, Martin Dias, Sherene Shaw, Da Silva, Persaud, Guyanese Pioneer Fund-Raising Group, Last Lap Lime and Peel Guyanese Association.

On Saturday, the Guyana flag was hoisted at L'Amoreaux Community Center at noon. And two cultural shows and the Independence lime followed this. Luther Hansraj coordinated this year's cultural shows. The visiting Amerindians, the largest group ever to participate in the festival, also performed a story, in song and dance, about the importance of the cassava plant to the indigenous peoples of Guyana.

Throughout the day, there was a variety of Guyanese arts and crafts, paintings, tourism displays as well as traditional Guyanese cuisine. However, this year's major attraction was the authentic display of Amerindian artifacts and arts and crafts. These included hammocks, tibisiri and mucru baskets. Casareep, cassava-bread and craft items were on sale and there were demonstrations of basketry and weaving.

Information booths on Guyana and its many eco-tourist resorts included Arrowpoint, Le Meridien Pegasus, Double B Exotic Gardens and the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana, the release said.

On Sunday there was an interfaith service followed by the El Dorado softball competition at L'Amoreaux ground and the Western Union-Guyana Independence Celebrity Cricket match, which featured some of Guyana's and the West Indies' celebrated cricketers. These included Rupert Gomes, Faoud Bacchus, Sew Shivnarine, Keith Cameron, Winston English, Sydney Matthews and Fazil Sattaur.

More than 5,500 Guyana flags were distributed out to patrons over the weekend, compliments of Western Union.

Doobay used the release to thank the festival's organising committee, the staff of the Guyana Consulate and the sponsors, including Western Union, El Dorado, BWIA, Air Transat and numerous community businesses, "for the superb job done in organizing the festival and making us very proud of our country and community."