upset: Chief of the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community, Ricardo Bharath Hernandez speaks to the media on the postponement of the Amerindian Heritage Day celebrations. —Photo: WAYNE BOWMAN
Amerindian Heritage Day celebrations postponed
The Amerindian Heritage Day celebrations overseen by the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community (SRFPC) which were scheduled to begin yesterday were postponed following orders by the Committee installed by Government to handle all Amerindian affairs.
At a media conference yesterday at the community's Arima headquarters, Chief of the SRFPC, Ricardo Bharath Hernandez, said that the chairman of the Cabinet Committee, Vel Lewis, had instructed that the start of the Heritage Day celebrations be postponed to October 14, the actual Heritage Day. Hernandez said the community was upset over the reason for the postponement and the lack of respect being shown to them.
"Every year we have a week of celebrations leading up to October 14 and these were supposed to begin today. The chairman said that the Permanent Secretary and the Minister of the Ministry of Diversity need to be briefed on the Heritage Day celebrations for them to make decisions and to ensure the right protocols are observed. In the meantime we are in limbo and don't know when we can really begin the celebrations and when we can send out invitations and announce our finalised schedule of events," Hernandez said.
"Our organisation was transferred from under the Ministry of The Arts and Multiculturalism to the Ministry of Diversity and Social Integration when it was established some months ago. They had enough time to do all this and not wait until this 99th hour. Somebody is not doing what they are supposed to and we have to suffer. They are treating us like little children and with little respect," Hernandez told the Express.
Hernandez said requests for financial support for the Amerindian Heritage Day celebrations were made to various ministries including the Multiculturalism Ministry and the Ministry of Diversity.
"We have always worked with whatever we have, but this is very frustrating because we as the First Peoples have rights and are a part of the nation's cultural and social landscape. Yet we are being looked over. We have been trying to get a business plan done for over three years now with the Cabinet Committee to see how we can best utilise the 25 acres of land given to us by the Government. Three years now and the committee can't sit and get this done with us," Hernandez said.
Lewis, who is also the deputy permanent secretary at the Multicultural Ministry, did not answer his mobile phone when the Express tried to reach him for comment yesterday. When the Express called Lewis' office we were informed that he was not available. A representative at the Ministry of Diversity said they were not aware of any Heritage Day celebrations and referred us to the Community Affairs or Multiculturalism ministries.