Indigenous groups, Red Thread picket Mae’s school

first_imgCulture Day fallout…demand apology from school…institution differs on account of eventsAs public outcry continues over Mae’s Schools deeming an Indigenous student’s cultural outfit inappropriate, the National Toshaos Council (NTC) on Tuesday joined with the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) and Red Thread in criticising the actions taken by the administration of the private institution.NTC Chairman Joel Fredericks and other picketers outside of Mae’s schoolThe concerned organisations and a number of persons took part in a picket exercise outside the school, after the mother of the primary schoolchild vented her frustrations on social media after the private institution deemed the boy’s Indigenous outfit “inappropriate”. These comments have drawn anger from interest groups and persons of similar heritage.NTC Chairman Joel Fredericks during the picketing exercise said that Indigenous people respect other races and expressed total disgust for the entire episode. In the same vein, he questioned if Government was truly serious about advancing social cohesion.“The NTC condemns such an act. With something like this happening here, I am not seeing what the Government is saying about social cohesion. Is this social cohesion for a big school like Mae’s to do something like this? From since then to now, no one is coming out and saying let us come out and make a public apology to the family,” Fredericks expressed.A young demonstrator, Ann-Marie Simon, who was adorned in cultural apparel, told <<>> that all the young man was doing was showcasing his heritage as “a proud Indigenous boy” and added that she too was awaiting a swift apology. Jude Da Silva, another person present, noted her frustration over her people being mistreated.“I am very happy of being an Indigenous woman, so I would expect that they issue an apology to us and to that little child,” Da Silva explained.Red Thread representative Joy Marcus told this newspaper that Amerindian persons were Guyanese, who should be able to express their culture.“I think that was disrespectful and that it was also discrimination with what happened to that child. What’s the use with having Culture Day if different people can’t showcase their culture freely? This has to stop now and should happen to any child,” she said.Her sentiments were shared by APA representative Michael McGarrell, who said that often times the Indigenous are mischaracterised as “bush people” without much knowledge. He too condemned the school’s actions, saying that the student suffered “indifference and disrespect”.“It’s not right and is totally unacceptable and we demand a public apology to the child and Indigenous peoples as a whole,” he stressed.In a statement, the APA noted that it was “disgraceful” that the student was singled out and disallowed from entering the school dressed in his cultural wear.“Traditional Indigenous clothing should not be deemed inappropriate in a country that celebrates its rich cultural diversity. It is enshrined in the Constitution of Guyana that every citizen has a right to their religion, cultural beliefs, and practices.”The Association recommended cultural sensitisation sessions be conducted at the school, so that students, teachers, and staff understand the cultural traditions and human rights Indigenous peoples possess.Mae’s version of eventsMedia operatives tried to get official word from school administrators, but the gates were locked to the media after which a “no comment” on the matter was offered. However, the administration of Mae’s in a statement issued late Tuesday afternoon offered an alternative account of the events of the May 25, 2018 Culture Day, saying that all students were briefed on the activity, noting that no clothing that exposed them was allowed.“All children were told that plain t-shirts and tights/shorts should be worn under clothes that would otherwise expose them,” the school highlighted.While acknowledging that an incident took place, the school said that the students of the class of the child were to dress as Portuguese and said that the child turned up in Amerindian wear and was told that it may be an issue since he was exposed. His mother, the school said, gave him a t-shirt.“At no point was any teacher engaged on this issue either by the child or his mother. The child settled into his classes without incident. There was no crying or other discernible upset displayed by him that warranted the attention of the class teacher, headteacher, or administration of the school then or at any other time throughout the school day. The fact that this student is made the subject of national headlines is regrettable.”The school also noted that there is no clear-cut national policy that is consistently enforced on what is acceptable in terms of exposure for both boys and girls when representing Guyana’s very diverse culture.Meanwhile, the child’s mother was urged to file a formal complaint to the Education Ministry and Ethnic Relations Commission. (Shemuel Fanfair)last_img


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