Concerned group meets with Mae’s Administration regarding the “inappropriate” dress incident

Following the recent issue of a student’s indigenous attire being deemed “inappropriate” by Mae’s Schools administration for its Culture Day activities, representatives the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA), two members of the school’s administration, the parents of the child and a reporter met to discuss concerns relating to the highly publicized incident.
The meeting which was requested by the APA took place at the Association’s Charlotte Street office and consisted of APA Executive Director, Jean La Rose; GIS Specialist & Forest Policy Officer, Michael Mc Garrell; Communications & Visibility Officer, Nicholas Peters; Mae’s Schools Director, Stacey French and Administrator, Lucinda Mc Curdy; the student’s parents, Jason Chacon and Karen Small as well as Natasha Smith, reporter and one of the organizers of the demonstrations that took place as a result of the incident.
The meeting represented the first occasion that the mother of the child was able to recount directly to the school’s top administration how the incident took place and to express her concerns about its impact on him as well as some of the inaccuracies contained in a statement released by the school on the matter. While the school ‘s representative said she was not happy about inaccurate media reporting that the child was not allowed to enter the school, the APA for its part said that the issue was bigger than whether the child was allowed entry or not, that it was a matter much larger that deemed a people’s culture as inappropriate, that resulted in the child feeling that he should dislike his culture after being made to feel uncomfortable in his dress.

Mother of child, Karen Small, recounts incident as representatives from the APA, Mae’s Schools and activist Natasha Smith, listen intently.

After some back and forth on the matter, and with the APA stressing on what culture really means to indigenous peoples in Guyana, the school’s director agreed that she would apologise to the young man on the turn the incident took and the trauma that he experienced shortly after. She did not, however, go so far as to say she would issue a public apology saying that she had to confer on this. The APA and others, including the parents, felt that this was necessary as a people had been hurt as was demonstrated by the denunciation from across the country. The APA further stated that the incident should be used both as a teaching and learning opportunity for the student and faculty body of the school. The Association suggested that it can help the school in sensitizing students and others on larger issues affecting indigenous peoples and their role in society. To that end, the school has agreed to host a session in collaboration with the Association to inform its body of indigenous culture and overcoming the negative stereotypes which continue to exist.
The APA sees the outcome of this meeting as a step in the right direction towards resolving the young child’s the incident and addressing cultural prejudices that may persist today. The Association would also like to take this opportunity to thank those persons stood together in advocating for the rights of the young student, his family and indigenous peoples across Guyana.