Indigenous People’s Day Focuses on Youth Empowerment and Self-Determination
Today is World Indigenous People’s Day and the Belize National Indigenous Council (BENIC) wants youths to reflect on what this celebration means for them in the present and for their future. The theme for this year’s Indigenous People’s Day is “Celebrating Indigenous Youth as Agents of Change for Self-Determination,” which the council says is timely given the unique responsibilities indigenous youths have. BENIC, the body representing the Garinagu, Yucatec, Mopan and Q’eqchi Maya people, invited the youths to view themselves as “future makers” as they shape their reality going forward. Pablo Mis, co-chair of BENIC also said that the day serves to remind Belize and the rest of the world about the struggles indigenous peoples have endured and continue to endure due to colonial systems. Mis stressed that acknowledging the harm these systems have done to indigenous peoples is an integral part of the work that needs to be done to address those issues.
The Ministry of Human Development, Families, and Indigenous People’s Affairs, also issued a statement today, acknowledging the role that Indigenous peoples have played and continue to play in Belize’s development. World Indigenous People’s Day was established through a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in December 1994. The date, August 9, was chosen to commemorate the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations, which took place in 1982. While Belize observes today as World Indigenous Day, the country has declared October 12 as its own day for the celebration and recognition of its indigenous citizens.