Toshaos form development council

Stabroek News
May 31, 2003

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A National Toshaos Council (NTC) has now been established to represent Amerindians and has set out in its terms of reference a comprehensive programme to develop indigenous communities.

A three-day conference was held at the Lake Mainstay Resort on the Essequibo Coast where village leaders and Toshaos met and discussed a number of issues which affect Amerindians.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday held at the Carter Center office in Georgetown, Region 5 Toshao, Colin Andrews told the media that the aim of the NTC is to represent the interests and promote the development of indigenous peoples.

This should be done in collaboration with local, national and international institutions and organisations in an equitable manner that provides continuous social, cultural, economic and ecological benefits.

Toney James, a Toshao of Region Nine, said the three-day conference was well supported with over 100 Toshaos gathered for the event.

The NTC was one of the recommendations which came from the Amerindian Act.

The terms of reference state that the NTC would seek to provide and facilitate the training and education of Toshaos and village councillors in their roles and functions.

Andrews said that over the past years some Toshaos have been unable to carry out their duties due to the lack of basic skills.

The NTC would seek to provide and facilitate access of modern technology to the Amerindian communities, to serve as a dispute resolution body and to help promote and protect the preservation of indigenous culture.

Moreover, the NTC would appoint persons to the Indigenous People’s Commis-sion, provide links between donor or development agencies and indigenous communities and also monitor village council elections.

At the moment the NTC does not have a clear structure, but the Toshaos are expected to meet very soon to elect officers to serve at the executive level of the council. The elected members of the NTC include Toshaos from all of the regions.

The Toshaos elected to serve on the NTC by region are: Region One in the Mabaruma sub district, Toshaos Andrew Ramascindo, Mark Atkinson, Moruca sub district and there is one vacant spot for a Toshao at Port Kaituma.

Region Two: Yvonne Pearson and Thomas Charles; Region Three there is a vacancy; Region Four David Simon; Region Five Colin Andrews; Region Six, Ann Vantrompe; Region Seven there are three vacancies; Region Eight, Noel Thomas, Bruno Martin and Sylvester Joseph; Region Nine, Wilson Laurentino, Tony James and Zachariah Norman and Region Ten, Salome Henry and Frank Macedo.

At the three-day conference some Toshaos were also sworn in as Justices of the Peace and Rural Constables.

James told the media that financial support for the effective running of the NTC would come mainly from the various communities, Amer-indian NGOs, donor agencies and the government through the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. James added that the establishment of the NTC provides a rare opportunity for indigenous people to be more involved in national life.

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