Joint Statement: International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

THEME: “the Role of Indigenous Women in the Preservation and Transmission of Traditional Knowledge”

Today, Ambassador of the United States of America, H.E. Sarah-Ann Lynch; Ambassador of the European Union, H.E. Fernando Ponz Canto; Canadian High Commissioner, H.E. Mark Berman; and British High Commissioner, H.E. Jane Miller, join Indigenous Peoples and organizations as we commemorate International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples under the theme “the Role of Indigenous Women in the Preservation and Transmission of Traditional Knowledge

We would like to pay our respect to the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana as the first peoples to this beautiful country, and to honor them for the achievements and contributions they have made and continue to make to this land, in particular their commitment, leadership and stewardship demonstrated over decades  for a more sustainable, safer, cleaner environment for us all, but also their contributions to business, culture, art, language, tourism, cuisine, medicines and traditions and other areas.

Indigenous Peoples all over the world, with their traditional knowledge, are recognized as distinct peaceful peoples in harmony with nature and the environment where they live, conscious of their collective human connections to their land and its surroundings and the richness of their culture. However, we are also aware indigenous communities throughout the world face challenges.  Improving security of land tenure, strengthening governance, promoting public investments in infrastructure, and supporting Indigenous systems for livelihoods are critical in advancing the quality of life within these communities.

The fight for Indigenous women’s rights is still a challenge and therefore particularly important to support. Indigenous women are known to be the backbone of their families and peoples’ communities and play a crucial role in the preservation and transmission of traditional ancestral knowledge. They deserve all possible support, so that they can be more empowered and resilient to the many challenges they face and stand resolute in promoting and preserving their traditional knowledge. Indigenous children deserve to experience, benefit from and value the legacy of the unique cultures, languages, arts, cuisine, medicines and traditions as a whole, for these are also key elements that identify them as Indigenous Peoples. In addition, Indigenous women are often taking a lead in the defence of indigenous lands and territories and advocating for indigenous peoples’ collective rights worldwide.

Together we must also acknowledge that the fight against discrimination, marginalization, and violations of Indigenous rights, is a global priority, also in Guyana. We must work in collaboration to prevent exploitation of their land and natural resources. Their leadership in this endeavor must also be recognized.

We applaud the Indigenous leadership recently reflected in the attendance of the National Toshaos Council Conference and congratulate them on their role in advocating for the needs of Indigenous Peoples of Guyana, working together with government, private sector, civil society organizations and other stakeholders.  We wish them well in their tenure as they advocate for development and review legislation and policies as it relates to safeguarding Indigenous peoples. It is essential that their voices are prominent to enhance their participation in decision-making processes.

We therefore reiterate our support for Guyana’s Indigenous Peoples rights and aspirations, and their full participation and decision-making as we work together in partnership to enhance their socio-economic development, empowerment, improved governance and, importantly, the preservation and transmission of their traditional knowledge for today and future generations.

Happy World’s Indigenous Peoples Day!