Region Nine preparing for Amerindian Heritage month celebrations from Terrence Boston in Lethem
Guyana Chronicle
September 15, 2002

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COMMUNITIES in Region Nine Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo are at the moment engaged in a hub of activities as they warm up for the various competitions planned for Amerindian Heritage month celebrations in Region Nine.

Already, cultural and various sporting engagements including Indigenous pageants, are being run off at the community and other levels in the North, Central and South Districts where selections are taking place to represent those areas at the upcoming Heritage programme billed to commence on September 22 at St. Ignatius near Lethem in the Central Rupununi.

Reflecting on previous heritage month activities in the Upper Takatu/Upper Essequibo Region, Regional Chairman Mr. Vincent Henry said in recent times, Amerindians of Region Nine have responded to the heritage observance with a more positive approach and fervour.

Participation and support, he said, are overwhelming from communities throughout the region.

Highlighting the heritage celebrations in the region this year will be a two-day meeting of Amerindian Leaders, where discussions will focus on the Amerindian Act. An entire day will be set aside to discuss HIV/AIDS Awareness, methods of prevention and planning a strategy to mount a sensitisation programme in the region.

According to Henry, funding to the tune of $850 000 is available from the Carter Centre for the Amerindian Act and will be partly used during Heritage Month to allow facilitators to travel from one community to the other.

In addition, a grant is expected from UNICEF for the HIV/AIDS meeting and further assistance is also expected from the Conservation International Organisation and the Vanessa Mining Company which has ongoing activities in Region Nine.

This assistance will take the form of transportation and prizes for competing participants and donations of various kinds are expected from ranchers and well-wishers towards the success of the activities planned.

Further, highlights of the planned activities will include reports from Non-Governmental Organisations such as UNICEF, USAID, CIDA and the Carter Centre which are operating in the region.

Among the guests expected to be part of the programme are 14 Canadian Indians from the `Ghost River Rediscovery Programme’ and a delegation of Brazilian Indians from across the border.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Ms. Carolyn Rodrigues is expected in the community for the opening ceremony of the week-long celebration.

Other activities planned are competitions, archery, cross-Savannah foot and bicycle race, cotton spinning, `parakari' drinking, fire lighting, cassava rating, the best `tuma' pot, which is a popular Amerindian cuisine, and cultural presentations from which items will be selected for presentation at the grand cultural extravaganza to be held on September 28 at the National Cultural Centre (NCC) in Georgetown.

Male and Female inter-district football competitions will also take centre stage, and a male and female team from Region Seven will journey to Region Nine to participate.

There will also be a commendation and presentation award ceremony for outstanding Amerindians of Region Nine, while a grand finale of the Miss Indigenous pageant will climax the heritage month celebrations in Region Nine on September 29.

This year’s winner will receive, among other prizes, an educational prize from the Vanessa Mining Company worth $220 000.