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10 indigenous Guyanese to be trained in Territorial Defense and Sustainable Environmental Management

10 Indigenous youth across Guyana have been given the opportunity to strengthen their leadership skills in territorial defense and sustainable development as part of an initiative spanning eight countries of the Amazon Basin.

A capacity building course for Territorial and National Defense Sustainable Environmental Management for Indigenous Youth in the Amazon is being hosted by an inter-institutional alliance between the Fund for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC), Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA), the University Rey Juan Carlos of Spain, and Conservation International.

80 youths, inclusive of 44 women and 36 men across various tribes, have been granted scholarships to partake in the programme across Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela.

Participants from Guyana are Felicia Arianne (Lokono), Ron Albert (Macushi), Brad Mick (Macushi), Bonita Herman (Arawak), Marcus James (Lokono), Chris Elliman (Arecuna), Althea Harding (Carib), Viokiola Indeira (Patamona) Courtney Peters (Aranaputa Valley) and former Miss Indigenous Heritage Queen Esther Marslowe (Lokono).

Marslowe, leader of the Lokono People of Guyana, were in charge of making a call on behalf of the Amazon youth and highlighted the fundamental role played by youth in the defense of the Amazon.

Esther Marslowe (Photo: Miss Indigenous Heritage Pageant)

“It is evident that a lot of our countries, the government of our countries, prioritise financial income over the wellbeing of our people. This is threatening to us indigenous people because our rights to the lands our ancestors have passed down to us are being taken away and the resources that are being found in these lands are being utilised unsustainably.”

Starting on November 14, the course will take students on an educational journey through life on the web. In this journey, the Indigenous youth will strengthen their leadership skills in territorial defense, conservation, sustainable development, and management of natural resources.

The course will last 10 weeks and will be conducted virtually. It comprises both synchronous sessions in which students will interact with their facilitators and each other and asynchronous sessions with self-learning activities.

Freddy Mamani, President of the FILAC Board of Directors says, “Ultimately, scholarship holders, I invite you to take advantage, fully, of the lessons that you will learn and upon reaching the last port you will have important and significant tools and the hive responsibility of taking care wisely, and responsibly, of our amazon.”

According to the report “Indigenous and Tribal Peoples and Forest Governance” by FAO and IDFAC, between 2019 and 2020, the Amazon lost at least 3 million forest hectares, severely damaging the ecosystems, and threatening the livelihoods of over 500 Indigenous Peoples that depend on its natural resources.

This was exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, with an alarming increase in the rate of deforestation in primary forests in the nine countries of the Amazon Basin.

Several studies document the fundamental and legendary role of Indigenous Peoples in defending and conserving the Amazon and its forests. Still, despite this contribution, their perspectives and rights over decision-making in their territories have been historically silenced.

This course aims to put indigenous youth at the forefront in the processes of defense of the Amazon and the individual and collective rights of their Peoples.


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