Unemployment and human trafficking are two of the major issues confronting indigenous youth in Guyana.
Michelle Williams, a youth leader among Guyana’s First Nation Peoples, made this comment during a 2013 panel discussion on International First Peoples at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) campus, O’Meara Road, Arima, campus earlier this month.
The theme of the conference was “Exploring Heritage, Consolidating Traditions and Creating A Legacy”.
The theme of the panel was “Youth, Gender and Elders of the First Peoples Communities”.
Williams said: “Our youths are finding it hard to get a job. There is human trafficking. Some of them are lured away with promises of good jobs. And they are often faced with a different dilemma when they are far away from home. Some opt to leave their homes and the capital of Georgetown and they are exposed to different threats.”
“They face other challenges like racism. They are called ‘bucks’. They do not mean Reebok. The Dutch called them buck because they are fleet footed. They say they move fast as a buck,” she added.
Apart from unemployment and human trafficking, Williams said there was the social problem of incest.
“Incest is taboo in Guyana. Cousin to cousin and they are having relationships. The Village Council has a role in ensuring it does not happen. Some youths feel there is no shame in doing it.”
Despite the challenges, Williams said: “It is important to work towards leaving a lasting legacy and creating a fortified regional approach to the treatment of First Nation peoples.”
At the end of her presentation, Williams presented documents on data about Guyana’s First Nation Peoples to Chief Ricardo Bharath, from the Santa Rosa First Peoples’ Community.