Fellow Dominicans, August 9 every year is the International Day of Indigenous Peoples.
The theme this year is “Leaving no one behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract.”
I would like to highlight that a social contract is an unwritten agreement that people make to cooperate for social and economic benefits.
During the colonial period we the indigenous people of Dominica, like in many countries, were driven from our lands, our culture and language suppressed and our people marginalized from all political and economic activities. In the end, we were never included in the social contract.
Over recent years, however, we have participated in forums and initiatives based on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and contributed actively to advisory bodies such as the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Fellow citizens, the demand around the world today is indigenous peoples’ inclusion, participation, and approval in the constitution of a system with social and economic benefits for all.
Right here in Dominica, the Kalinago benefit from having the Kalinago Act reaffirmed at independence which allows for a Kalinago Council. The government also has a Ministry committed to the people’s upliftment.
To date, our government has provided opportunities to ensure that no one is left behind. We have benefitted from all socio-economic and cultural programs and physical infrastructure.
We will continue to build on the new social contract articulated in Dynamic Dominica because it is an expression of cooperation for the social interest of the Kalinago.
I understand the new social contract, and it is one that I am happy to participate in as the Minister responsible for Kalinago Upliftment. It is one based on continued open participation and corporation.
One that fosters equal opportunities and respects the rights, dignity, and freedoms of my people. One based on Free and Prior Informed consent.
Our theme may well be: “We have left no one behind: Kalinago enjoying the new social contract.”