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First Peoples-Heritage Week begins tomorrow

By Newsday Reporter Thursday, October 10 2013

The First Peoples indigenous community in Trinidad and Tobago will be hosting their 13th annual Amerindian Heritage Week, which runs from tomorrow (October 11) to October 19. Heritage Week will feature special events, including a conference themed “Exploring Heritage, Consolidating Traditions and Creating A Legacy”.

Tomorrow, Amerindian Heritage Week will be launched with an opening ceremony at the UTT O’Meara Campus from 6 pm - 9 pm. The opening ceremony will include a speech by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, greetings from a Nation Representative of the Caribbean Organisation of Indigenous Peoples, musical performance by the First Peoples of Suriname, as well as a cocktail reception with live entertainment by Los Alumnos de San Juan.

The week of activities will then continue with its inaugural International First People’s Conference on October 12 and 13, also at the O’Meara Campus. The two day conference will feature seven academic and performative panels and is being hosted by the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community of Arima (formerly known as the Carib Community) in conjunction with the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration. Arima is home to the largest number of descendants of the Caribs, who were among Trinidad and Tobago’s first inhabitants, therefore home to the First Peoples.

According to Aurora Herrera, event coordinator of the Amerindian Heritage Week, the conference will feature a wide array of activities and honoured presenters.

“We have chiefs and other Indigenous representatives coming from all over the world for the conference,” she said.

According to the detailed conference calendar, conference attendees will be privy to presentations from countries such as Belize with Garifuna Songs, St Vincent’s basketry, Guyana’s presentations on youth and gender issues faced by the First Peoples and more from Dominica, USA and of course Trinidad and Tobago.

The International First People’s Conference’s press release states that the conference will deal with “the burning issues confronting First Peoples in an environment that remains ambivalent and hostile.” Such issues include the discovery of human remains beneath the Red House in Port-of-Spain, which, according to the First Peoples, indicates that it is a First People burial ground. “How the immigrant state deals with this question will say a lot about the future direction of relations between our First Nations community and their welcome or not so welcome guests,” said Herrera.She also noted that at the conference, “There will be presentations and discussions concerning First Peoples cosmology, philosophy and the various aspects of their way of life. We are also addressing questions of governance.”

The Heritage Week events also include a Smoke Ceremony at the Hyarima Monument, Arima and the Spiritual Sanctification of the Parliament Building at the Red House on Monday (October 14), as well as the Indigenous Water Ritual at Lopinot River, Arouca on Tuesday (October 15) and much more. The Conference is free to the public and it includes meals, however pre-registration is required before Wednesday 16 October. To register, go to www.santarosafirstpeoples.org



First Peoples Heritage Week calendar of events



Friday October 11:

6 pm - 8 pm

Launch of the First Peoples Heritage Week 2013



8 pm – 9 pm

Inauguration of the International First Peoples Conference

“Exploring Heritage, Consolidating Traditions and Creating a Legacy”

Cocktails with live entertainment by Los Alumnos de San Juan

Venue – UTT O’Meara Campus Auditorium



Saturday October 12

8 am – 4 pm

International First Peoples Conference

Panel Presentations/Discussions

Venue – UTT O’Meara Campus Auditorium



Sunday October 13

8 am – 4 pm

International First Peoples Conference

Panel Presentations/Discussions

Venue – UTT O’Meara Campus Auditorium



Monday October 14

Dedicated To the Great Spirit Tamushi

6.30 am – 8.15 am

Smoke Ceremony

Venue – Hyarima Monument, Arima



8.15 am

Street Procession from the Smoke Ceremony to the First Peoples Community Centre

Venue – Streets of Arima



3 pm – 5 pm

Formal Ceremony to commemorate First Peoples Heritage Day

Venue – UTT, O’Meara Campus Auditorium



8 pm – 10 pm

Spiritual Sanctication of the Parliament Building, the Red House

Venue – Red House, Port of Spain



Tuesday October 15

Dedicated To the Ancestors

7 am – 9 am

Indigenous Water Ritual

Venue – Lopinot River, Arouca



4 pm

Ceremony to the Ancestral Spirits of Anaparima

Venue: San Fernando/Anaparima Hill



Wednesday October 16

Dedicated To The Indigenous Traditions

9 am – 3.30 pm

Open House Visits to the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community Centre

For School Children, Groups and Families**

7 Paul Mitchell St Arima.



Friday October 18

Dedicated To Indigenous Traditions of Music, Dance, and Traditional Handicrafts

10 am – 5 pm

Heritage Cultural Fair



6 pm - 9 pm

Cultural Show

Venue - Santa Rosa Catholic Church Park



Saturday October 19

Dedicated To the Indigenous Traditions on Local Self Governance

10 am – 12 noon

Meeting of the Caribbean Organisation of Indigenous People

Venue – Carib Centre



5 pm – 8 pm

Closing Ceremony and Thanksgiving

Venue – Santa Rosa First Peoples Centre

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