Carib community disappointed over lack of funding for Ameridian Heritage Day Celebrations
A week before the observance of the Day of Recognition of Indigenous Peoples of T&T is scheduled to take place, Carib community chief Ricardo Bharath Hernandez has accused Government of shirking its responsibilities under the Unesco Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Hernandez spoke in an interview after a news conference at the Carib Centre, Paul Mitchell Street, Arima, yesterday to address delays in the disbursement of funding for the activities and a breakdown in communication with the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration. "We are calling on the line minister to look at this matter with some urgency and see how best we can salvage this event. We are asking the Government to really, with some seriousness, look at the community in an effort to correct these things that are happening because as an indigenous community we have to be respected and given some priority especially as it relates to the Unesco Declaration," said Hernandez.
The declaration was adopted at a United Nations General Assembly in 2007 by 144 countries and assures indigenous communities worldwide rights to practice and revitalisation of their cultural traditions in addition to provisions for protection and development of their cultural heritage. The Carib Community has been observing the Day of Recognition on October 14 since 2000 when government declared it an official day.
According to Hernandez, oversight of funding for the festivities was transfered from the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism to the Ministry of National Diversity during the June Cabinet reshuffle. Hernandez said the community was asked to postpone activities, which usually start one week before the actual day, to allow the new minister, Clifton de Coteau, to become acquainted with the festival.
Hernandez said the community was also asked this year to incorporate the 50th anniversary of Independence into their festivities. To do so, Hernandez said the community requested a larger budget of $1.4 million in order to stage a play by Pearl Eintou Springer, and host cultural bazaars and art exhibits for schoolchildren at both branches of the National Academy for the Performing Arts, as well as a symposium.
All these activities have been cancelled since the community has only received $144,000 from the Sports and Culture Fund in the Office of the Prime Minister, said Hernandez. He added that there has been no communication with the ministry since a meeting last week, so the community is unable to go ahead. He pointed out, however, that whether or not funding is received, the Day of Recognition will still be observed with an ancestral ceremony and other activities at the Carib Centre.