Thursday, August 21, 2008

Commentary: Charles Williams and indigenous issues in St Vincent

The historic Kalinago people of St Vincent are on the ‘brink of extinction,’ said Chief Charles Williams, leader of the Carib Community in Dominica, after he wrapped up a three day visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines on August 6. Williams was warmly welcomed by residents of Sandy Bay as he sought to re-establish the links between the Caribs of Dominica and SVG.

Charles Williams’ visit was prompted by a series of activities in the international indigenous community that have resulted in the passing of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and a corresponding protocol that the Organization of American States (OAS) has issued in draft form providing for significant rights, protections and privileges to indigenous peoples world wide. These declarations have important implications for our indigenous peoples in the Caribbean, and his trip to SVG was to re- familiarise himself with local conditions in the Carib community, north of the Rabbaca River, and particularly to link up with descendants of the Kalinago people -- the first people of St Vincent.

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