Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Art & Culture, Economy, People & Places » Celebrating World Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Belize
Aug 8, 2023

Celebrating World Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Belize

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed on August ninth each year. It’s a day set aside to raise awareness and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. It is also used to recognize the achievements and contributions of indigenous people in environmental protection and development. In tonight’s Kolcha Tuesday, we look at the accomplishments in Belize. News Five’s Duane Moody reports. 


Duane Moody, Reporting

In Belize, there will be no official activities taking place to commemorate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. But as a country, strides have been made to recognise the indigenous Maya and Garifuna peoples.


Dolores Balderamos-Garcia

Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs

“Generally speaking it is out Garifuna sisters and brothers and also our Maya sisters and brothers who we consider indigenous. And I believe, at least in my view, the indigeneity comes from being indigenous to the Americas. Our country is absolutely rich in diversity and we are happy to keep up the world indigenous day in a good way.”


This year, the theme celebrates youths and their role in carrying on the traditional knowledge, voices and wisdom of indigenous people. Chair of the Belize National Indigenous Council is Sheena Zuniga.


Sheena Zuniga

Sheena Zuniga, Chair, Belize National Indigenous Council

“It is being celebrated under the theme, “Indigenous Youths as Agents of Change for Self Determination. As BENIC, what we are going to do is send out a statement because we need to encourage our youths to be part of the decision-making process; we need to empower our youths and that is something we know that we need to do more of. As you know, the youths are our future; they are the ones who will be our future leaders and the ones who will be fighting for our rights in the near future. We recognise that our indigenous people – we have the same struggles, we’ve had similar history that we have to deal with. So it is very important for us to recognise in areas we can collaborate and the history that we both share working together as indigenous people of Belize.”


Zuniga is also the president of the National Garifuna Council. The Garinagu have been recognised as an indigenous people since 1999 and are still working to ensure that their rights are protected as such. Zuniga speaks of a five-year strategic plan going forward for BENIC.


Sheena Zuniga

“We finalise our strategic plan. That is a huge success for us because it paves the way of what we will be doing in the next five years. One of the things we hope to do is to advocate more for our national development for our voice to be heard about the effects of climate change that affects our indigenous communities, the fact that we need more reforestation in our communities, in our forms. We want to speak highly on the way that our indigenous rights are on the forefront in every decision-making for government and that we are involved in policy writing process – that we as indigenous people are being represented and our voices are also heard.”


The preservation of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the Maya and Garifuna people is happening at the individual, community and national levels. Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Dolores Balderamos-Garcia speaks to this.


Dolores Balderamos-Garcia

“Now that there is a Ministry for Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs and there is that cultural awareness, I give a lot of credit to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology. And Minister Francis, they are really doing a lot. Doctor Vincent Palacio of UB is also promoting and I believe they have started the intercultural indigenous language and cultural institute at UB. And so the cultural preservation of the Maya languages and the Garifuna language so very important.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

Advertise Here

Comments are closed