By Irene Medina | Trinidad Express Newspapers | Dec 21, 2012 at 9:57 PM ECT
Their 30-year-long wait has ended.
Chief of the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community, Ricardo Bharath-Hernandez, is thanking the People's Partnership Government for a dream come true in its award of 25 acres of land along the Blanchisseuse Main Road to the indigenous community to construct a heritage village.
"We have been lobbying for this for 30 years now…and it feels very good indeed that we are one step closer to establishing a proper home for the First Peoples' Community," Bharath-Hernandez told the Express yesterday.
Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration Clifton De Coteau made the announcement in Tobago last Thursday at a post-Cabinet meeting on the island.
According to Bharath-Hernandez, this decision by the Government "shows that something is happening and, at long last, the Community will get an opportunity to put something together to preserve and showcase the heritage and culture of the first people."
He said the announcement was not a surprising one since a year ago Cabinet took the first decision to award the land, but it had to go through several processes.
"I am happy to know that it has gotten to the stage where the portion of land will be surveyed, after which we will move towards developing it," the chief added.
He said the major aim is to have an indigenous industry and ideas are already being collated to form a business plan to move the dream of their own cultural and business space forward.
"We want to have a cassava factory where we will process cassava bread and farine, as well as a handicraft centre to showcase the arts and crafts of our community members so that visitors and tourists can buy.
"Our plans also include the construction of a guest house to accommodate our brothers and sisters; an indigenous museum and a meeting place and cultural centre where we can showcase all things indigenous," Bharath-Hernandez explained.
Plans also include an official residence for the Carib Queen, as well as for other indigenous members who will be responsible for manning the heritage centre and will incorporate agriculture and some aspects of wild life farming, the chief explained.
Bharath-Hernandez, a former PNM deputy mayor of the Arima Borough, heads a community of approximately 600 descendants of the first peoples of which some 90 are active members of the community.
He said, while the group has not heard from Minister De Coteau officially on the matter, he is assured that he will be formally notified sometime during or after the festive season.