CARICOM Reparations Commission workshops for youth advocacy launched in Guyana
The first in a series of Reparations Advocacy Training Workshops organised by the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) was held in Guyana, 8-10 March. The workshops are being conducted in collaboration with the CARICOM Secretariat, and the Centre for Reparation Research (CRR) UWI, Mona. The members of IKEMBA, a Guyana-based youth advocacy organisation for reparations were the main participants in the capacity-building workshop to prepare the group for national and regional outreach to other youth on reparations.
The training was held at the National Racquet Centre. It was facilitated by Caribbean Historian and Director of the Centre for Reparation Research, Professor Verene Shepherd, International Human Rights Attorney and Assistant Researcher at the CRR, Ms. Jodi-Ann Quarrie, and Chairman of the Guyana Reparations Committee and University of Guyana Lecturer, Mr. Eric Phillips.
The sessions focused on the legal case for reparation, the ideology of racism and its impact on culture, capitalism and enslavement in the Caribbean and the implications and opportunities of the International Decade of People of African Descent, among other areas.
In attendance at the opening of the workshop were Dr. Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development at the CARICOM Secretariat; Ms. Tamika Boatswain, Director of Culture, Guyana and Dr. Hilary Brown, CARICOM’s Programme Manager, Culture and Community Development.
Dr. Slater offered words of encouragement to the youth and pledged the continued support of CARICOM.
“I am here to show my support for this event and to thank you and encourage you to spread the word. We believe that our fight for reparations will significantly depend on you, the youth. We hope to multiply this sort of event, for those of you who have colleagues in the Region, we want you to communicate this message to them and to encourage them to get together as you have done,” he said.
Ms. Boatswain echoed the sentiments of the Assistant Secretary-General while offering the group the support of her office and by extension, the Government.
“It is good to see young people like yourself getting involved in this type of activity. You have our support at the Department of Culture, and we would like to continue to engage with you,” she said.
According to Vice President of the organisation, Ms. Onika Frank, the training aimed to build capacity in the area of Caribbean history and reparations, to create an advocacy tool kit that could be used by other youth organisations desirous of championing reparations and other issues relating to the African diaspora.
She said that Caribbean history was not merely about the “colonial origins of poverty”; it addressed the most fundamental questions of who we are, what we believe, and how we got to the place we are currently. Yet the uncomfortable facts of Caribbean history rarely make it into the consciousness of even the most educated of our society’s elite.
As a result, advocacy is important.
The session catered for 25 youth, which consisted of members of IKEMBA, The Guyana Reparations Committee (GRC), The Guyana Rastafarian Youth Council and representatives from the International Decade of People of African Descent Assembly Guyana (IDPAD-G).
The Thirty-Fourth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government, held in July 2013 in Trinidad and Tobago, agreed to pursue Reparations for Native Genocide and Slavery from the relevant European States. National Reparations Committees have been established in 12 Member States and the regional CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) has been functioning since September 2013, constituted by chairpersons of the national committees. The CRC is chaired by UWI Vice Chancellor, Sir Hilary Beckles.