Carib chief and head of the Santa Rosa First Peoples community, Ricardo Hernandez-Bharath yesterday joined with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley in welcoming Dominican nationals to TT while their homes were being rebuilt in the wake of Hurricane Maria last week.
Hernandez-Bharath made the remarks during his lecture at the ROYTEC First Peoples Schools Outreach Programme where he urged citizens to do their part in assisting the hurricane-ravaged island.
“Hurricane Maria has ravished Dominica, an island in which there is a large portion of indigenous peoples. We are all very concerned over the state of Dominica and other islands affected by recent hurricanes.”
Newsday spoke with Hernandez-Bharath after the ceremony and although he was aware of concerns and criticisms of the invitation, he described the move as an opportunity for Trinbagonians to exercise their spirit of justice and sympathy to their Caricom neighbours.
“I understand that at this time there is a lot of financial constraints but, I do not believe that we are in that bad a situation that we cannot lend some basic support and assistance to our brothers and sisters.”
Hernandez-Bharath said several members of the First Peoples community have already expressed their interest in providing lodging for displaced Dominican nationals from the Carib territories on the island.
“I have spoken to several members of the community who said that they were prepared to accomodate individuals. At the moment we are working on providing some grocery items to donate as part of the relief effort.”
The programme, which featured over five different primary and secondary schools, was a joint initiative by ROYTEC and the Santa Rosa First Peoples community and sought to raise awareness into the history and culture of the first people’s through school activities such as essay writing competitions, exhibits and lectures.
In addition to yesterday’s lectures, students were also treated to a moving portrayal of Hyarima the legendary Carib chief who resisted Spanish colonisation during the 17th Century.