EXCLUSIVE: Salute exceptional work of Indigenous people on World’s Indigenous Peoples

United Nations Caribbean saluted and lauded the exceptional services given by the Indigenous people on the occasion of International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. 

EXCLUSIVE: Salute exceptional work of Indigenous people on World's Indigenous Peoples
EXCLUSIVE: Salute exceptional work of Indigenous people on World's Indigenous Peoples

UN: United Nations Caribbean saluted and lauded the exceptional services given by the Indigenous people on the occasion of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. 

READ HERE: About exceptional people of the Indigenous community 

Yefan Sealey

Indigenous Peoples are sometimes deprived of the opportunity to learn about their cultures and traditions. Yefan Sealey is an Indigenous Youth of Nepuyo heritage in Trinidad who is working to change this. 

Yefan is knowledgeable about his heritage and takes pride in sharing his culture and traditions with his young peers through his art. Yefan’s drawings showcase a range of Nepuyo customs and items, such as utensils made from forest material and clay, musical instruments, and food and dress.

Speaking with UNIC Caribbean for Indigenous Day, Yefan highlighted the importance of this UN observance for helping Indigenous peoples around the world gain more visibility.

The First Peoples of Trinidad and Tobago have been “invisible” for many years since the encounter with Columbus, Yefan shared, pointing to the country’s centuries of experience under Spanish, French and British rule, which led to the erosion of Indigenous cultures.

Lamenting that Indigenous Youth still don’t always have the opportunity to learn about their heritage in school, Yefan vowed to continue doing his part to advocate for the preservation of Indigenous cultures, promising his talent would always be used to “transmit knowledge of the Indigenous Peoples.”

Rehanna Thomas

Growing up, Rehanna Thomas of the Akawaio peoples in Guyana noticed that Indigenous communities sometimes lacked access to basic services. Coming from a background of strong female leaders, Rehanna felt inspired to step into a leadership role to help tackle this issue.

It was during her undergraduate studies that Rehanna immersed herself in the world of indigenous youth advocacy and policy training, beginning a journey that would continue to this day. 

She now does social work in Indigenous communities in Guyana to help bridge the gap on inequalities faced by her people.

Speaking with UNIC Caribbean for Indigenous Day, Rehanna said indigenous communities stand to inherit the consequences of multiple global crises they did not cause. 

This is why she uses her voice to help empower other Indigenous Youth to step into leadership roles and get involved in decision making.

Rehanna is also part of the group Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) which addresses human rights violations and to works towards improving the general conditions of the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana.

Shylina Lingaard

As a young Arowak Indigenous woman, Shylina Lingaard cherishes the role her people play as guardians of nature and biodiversity. She works alongside Indigenous traditional authorities and their communities in Suriname to ensure that the next generation of indigenous youths understands why it matters.

“Our rights are repeatedly being violated; we are driven from our lands – waters polluted and defenders killed,” Shylena shares with UNIC Caribbean for Indigenous Day. She envisions instead a world where Indigenous traditional knowledge and skills are considered in policy making and development planning.

Shylena works to enlist more Indigenous Youth advocates in the fight for justice by building on efforts of their elders to gain legal recognition of their collective Indigenous Peoples rights, including land rights. 

She works with young people to help them understand the impact of climate change on the Indigenous way of life — where the traditions, customs and mindset depend on harmony with nature.

Shylene also works to educate Indigenous young people about the message of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and its call to Leave no one behind. She is an officer at the bureau of the Association of Indigenous Village Leaders in Suriname (VIDS).