Residents of Block 42, a developing community in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice), have voiced numerous concerns regarding land access and ownership with Indigenous Peoples Affairs Minister, Sydney Allicock.Some of the residents along with Minister Allicock at the meetingIssues such as the occupation of lands and its allocation as well as concerns regarding land titles were raised with the Minister during a recent visit to the Speightland community situated at Mackenzie, Linden.Residents of Block 42, who attended the meeting, said they were fearful that the untitled lands that they occupy might be taken away by persons as was the case in the past.Issues regarding land for both housing and commercial purposes are major concerns within the region and according to officials, this is majorly due to National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) having ownership of the land.During the meeting, Haniff Emamudin, a resident, stated, “Minister, this land thing, we’re just asking if you could just look into it…where I am living, I’m on a part of NICIL land and I’m not looking that somebody would come now and say, ‘well listen my great grandfather used to occupy this land here fifty years ago and you just came here the other day’. I believe people who develop this land and is living there with their families, making a living and develop this land …at least they should get some rights. Not a man who was [here] fifty years ago, as they say, ‘a mark land’”, the resident noted.The resident noted that he has put a lot of labour into the plot of land he is currently occupying and it would be unreasonable if someone turns up to inform him that their relatives are the owners.“This has happened in the past, that people come up with a whole map of 50 or 60 years back and a man who put his soul out there [on the land] they had a big problem”, he outlined.Another resident noted that 61 plots of land in the community have already been surveyed but noted that people are coming into the community and selling them.“People coming in from all sides now and they claiming lands which is not dem own”, the resident alleged.“I’ve been pushing a long time to get title for me land”, another resident noted.In response, the Minister noted that checks have to be made with NICIL, which he explained would take some time. He further encouraged residents to check for records related to land before laying their foundations.He also alluded that an Inquiry, which was expected to deal with such issues across the country, had been shut down years ago.“That is why the President, in 2015, recognised the difficulty with lands in Guyana in general and ordered that there be a Commission of Inquiry into all lands. That process started and it had a period of time it was stopped. For us, as Indigenous Peoples, we had a number of groups including the National Toshao’s Council saying they didn’t want it and put it to a halt. And that is now back to haunt us because this could have been something in progress. The idea was to sort out all these land issues and let everybody be treated equally, fairly”, the Minister related.The outcome, he noted, is that presently there are communities fighting amongst themselves as it relates to land and the issue is difficult to sort it out.Nevertheless, the Minister said the Region 10 Democratic Council and Linden Mayor and Town Council have a lot of work to do as it relates to sorting out the lands and their titles.“As somebody was saying, there’s confusion in the lands here. You don’t know where your boundaries [are] and all of that. These need to be sorted out and it’s not easy. So I understand what the people are saying. It is for us to settle it, how do we go about this”, the Minister said.He also recalled situations where lands have been sold multiple times.Minister Allicock believes that one day, the situation will be sorted out and is optimistic that residents and Government have to work in resolving these issues. For the developing community of Block 42, he said it is slowly evolving with improvements in water, lighting and roads.
OTTAWA – Two Albertans were named Canada’s newest astronauts Saturday as the country marked its 150th birthday.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used the platform of waterlogged Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa to name Jennifer Sidey of Calgary and Joshua Kutryk of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.Sidey is a lecturer with the University of Cambridge who has worked as a mechanical engineer, while Kutryk is an air force pilot who also holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in defence studies.Sidey told the crowd she was inspired to become an astronaut in 1992 when Roberta Bondar went into space aboard the space shuttle Discovery. She said she had the opportunity to attend a speech in Calgary by Canada’s first female astronaut.“I remember looking up to her being excited at the idea of being a scientist, being a Canadian and having the opportunity to explore places beyond our world,” she said.“I’m grateful to have had that role model and that memory makes this moment so powerful for me.”Kutryk, who holds the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the air force, said he is honoured to be joining the Canadian Space Agency.“Throughout the recruitment campaign, Jenny and I met some amazing Canadians, scientists, doctors, engineers, pilots like myself. There is so much talent in this country,” he said.“I stand on the shoulders of the great Canadian astronauts before me, they inspired me to be the best that I could be.”Kutryk, 35, was fascinated with space as a child, according to a biography posted on the Canadian Space Agency website. He said he knew his life would focus on helping to explore it.“I have always wanted to leave the world a better place than I found it, and I believe that space is one area where I can do so, Kutryk said in a question and answer on the space agency’s website.Sidey, who will be 29 in August, said her motto is “fortune favours the brave.” She said her greatest previous achievement was to become a lecturer at Cambridge, something she never dreamed of when she first moved to Britain in 2011 as a engineering graduate.Sidey and Kutryk will move to Houston this month to start the two year training program for astronaut candidates. The program provides instruction in the systems on board the International Space Station and a host of other things ranging from spacewalks to survival training to Russian language instruction.The two astronauts will be officially welcomed Tuesday at Canadian Space Agency headquarters in Quebec.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version wrongly said Side is a lieutenant colonel in the RCAF, it’s Kutryk who is in the air force