Two absolute grants, five certificates of title delivered to Indigenous leaders

ON the opening day of the National Toshaos Conference which is being held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCA) at Liliendaal, two absolute grants and five certificates of title were handed over to the leaders of several Amerindian villages.

Absolute grants were handed over to the village leaders of Capoey and Mashabo in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam).

The certificates of title were delivered to the village leaders of St. Monica/Karawab and Mainstay/Whyaka Village, also located in Region Two. Titles were also delivered to the village leaders of Tasserene and Kangaruma in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Yupukari in Region Nine (Upper Takutu- Upper Essequibo).

Speaking shortly after receiving the certificate of title, Toshao of Mainstay/Whyaka, Yvonne Pearson, who appeared on the National Communications Network (NCN), said with the legal document now in hand, she will be pushing for more agricultural production in her village.

“Having these legal documents mean so much to us and this is why I am so excited because I am talking about agriculture. Having the equipment, having the land and the necessary machinery and further support from the government, I am excited; I am ready to talk agriculture big time,” Pearson said.

She added that receiving the village’s land title is a historic and celebratory moment for the people of Mainstay/Whyaka.

“Today is history. We have legal title, we have our map extension of our village lands and I know when I return this weekend and I have my meeting…everybody will be happy that we have received our legal documents,” she added.

Yupukari’s Toshao Shamir Khan also expressed elation at receiving his village’s land title. He said that he has been advocating vigorously over the years for the village to receive its land title.

“One of the things that we wanted and that we have been fighting for is our land title and moments ago we received that and I am so happy for myself and my people.”

Khan said with this new achievement, he will be working to see that the land is utilised for the economic development of his village. “Now we can be able to utilise our land in a sustainable way, because that is the only way we can go forward,” he said.

Meanwhile, subject Minister Pauline Sukhai, while delivering her remarks at the conference, disclosed that the government through the ministry is pursuing two final land extensions to complete the titling and demarcations of Amerindians lands.

“Land-titling remains paramount on our government’s agenda,” she said adding: “The ministry is pursuing the approval for two extensions for accomplishing once and for all, the titling and demarcation of Amerindians lands.”

Minister Sukhai further urged the participating toshaos to take full advantage of the five-day conference, which ends on Friday, by using every available opportunity to address many of the unique challenges that are affecting the hinterland communities and also to engage in meaningful discussions.

In 2013, the PPP/C government signed off on implementation of the $2.2 billion (US$11M) Amerindian Land Titling and Demarcation project, which concluded in 2016.

The functioning unit of the project was later disbanded by the previous administration and was resuscitated when the President Irfaan Ali-led administration made good on its promise to resuscitate the ALT project, with a proposed 2021 budgetary allocation of $630 million.

An additional $561.6 million was allocated in Budget 2022 to achieve a target of 20 certificates of title.

The ALT project has three primary goals: completion of land-title issues and demarcation process for all Indigenous villages that submitted requests; increased use of existing and alternative mechanisms to resolve land-titling disputes; and thirdly, a communication strategy, including a handbook describing the process of titling, demarcation, and socio-economic impact of secured land tenure.

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