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Georgetown, Guyana – (August 17, 2017) Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton, yesterday, charged councillors from the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs), the Mayor and Town Council of Corriverton, Overseers and members of the private sector in East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six) to ensure that every resident in their communities is treated equally and that they do not experience any bias or prejudice. Speaking to the 28 participants at Number 78 Village where the meeting was held, the Minister also committed to hosting more workshops in the Region, after education stakeholders and councillors requested same.

In his address, Minister Norton said that sensitisation is the first step in strengthening and empowering national, regional, municipal and local administrative bodies in the governance process. “You are critical stakeholders in the process of building a unified Guyana since you have the ability to bring about change in the communities in which you live and work. It all begins here… there is need for social cohesion in everything that we do and it is important that in executing our jobs, you ensure that … every resident in your communities is treated equally and that no amount of prejudice, bias or stereotypical behaviour is exhibited,” he said.

Minister Norton also noted that it is critical to foster a better understanding and appreciation of each other at the community level. “Despite our differences, you must seize every opportunity of bringing persons of varying backgrounds together. We need to work together as a people, regardless of ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, political affiliation, socioeconomic status and other differences to build Guyana,” he said.

Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UCCCI), executive member, Mr. Prakash Singh greets Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton (right) on his arrival at the Sensation Banquet Hall for a sensitisation workshop for East Berbice-Corentyne, (Region Six) NDCs, the Mayor and Town Council of Corriverton, Overseers and members of the private sector. Regional Social Cohesion Officer, Ms. Shurla Scott and Technical Officer in the Ministry of Social Cohesion, Ms. Natasha Singh-Lewis are also pictured in the background, from left to right.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Town Clerk, Mr. Narendra Sukhram, who charged the participants to “cooperate for the dignity of our country”. The Town Clerk noted that while Corriverton has achieved a number of goals on its work plan for 2017, building stronger partnerships is essential to a more productive and peaceful future. “Fighting fearlessly to exclude marginalisation should be our first and foremost objective. In this manner a sense of belonging will be created. Trust will be promoted and the opportunity of having upward mobility will definitely be realised… We have the ability to allow social cohesion to prevail. Negativity will never allow us to pursue achieving unity,” he said.

Councillor for the Number 52-74 NDC, Mr. Daveanand Chaitram invited the Ministry to host a sensitisation workshop within his NDC. He said that his NDC comprises 25 villages, which could benefit from smaller sessions with the Ministry, as it will provide the residents with an opportunity to exchange ideas on fostering solidarity.

Similar views were shared by Councillor for the Maida-Tarlogie NDC, Ms. Sheralyn Pestano and member of the Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UCCCI), Mr. Gurdeo Tejram, who both asked the Ministry to partner with them to introduce programmes to communities, particularly those between Skeldon and New Amsterdam, that cater to enhancing the lives of the youth and elderly persons.

Meanwhile, UCCCI member, Mr. Prakash Singh applauded the Ministry’s efforts and noted that because of incidents in the past, it faces a “Herculean task to promote unity in the Region”. He, however, pledged to support any programme aimed at fostering unity. “We need social cohesion to escalate our likeness so that we can embrace one another. We live in this one country; many countries have many different peoples and they live very harmoniously together. Our education system did not teach us an integrated culture from the inception, our schools, our communities; we have inherited that legacy… We need to know what kind of budgets we have; what are the things [that] we can do and the effects of doing those things, what we can reasonably expect within a reasonable timeframe to [promote social cohesion],” he said.

Councillors from the Crabwood Creek-Moleson Creek, Good Hope-Number 51, Black Bush Polder and Macedonia-Joppa NDCs and members of the Rotary Club of Corriverton also attended the workshop.

This session followed closely on the heels of a sensitisation workshop for councillors of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Demerara-Mahaica (Region Four) and administrative heads, which was held on Tuesday, August 15 at the RDC office in Beterverwagting, East Coast Demerara. Also on Tuesday, the Ministry hosted a Diversity Education and Inclusion Workshop with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including the Salvation Army’s Men’s Social Centre, the Indian Action Committee (IAC) and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) at the National Racquet Centre on Woolford Avenue, Georgetown.

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