MEMBERS of the First Peoples community have honoured the remains of their ancestors and called on the public and the authorities to help keep their heritage alive for future generations.
In honour of First Peoples Day of Recognition and Heritage, members of the first peoples community led by chief Ricardo Bharath Hernandez performed a
purublaka or ancestral memorial ceremony where incense and leaves are burnt was by held at the Red House on Friday.
Speaking with Newsday after the ceremony, Bharath Hernandez said there was need for a greater appreciation of indigenous culture by honouring the First Peoples and encouraging development among their descendents.
He said while the First People’s monument at the Red House was the first step towards highlighting the culture of indigenous people in Trinidad and Tobago’s history, more was needed to keep their cultural identity alive.
“We believe this is the major act that will cement the heritage of the First Peoples where they can practise
their culture. All we ask in general is for the appreciation and support from the national community in whatever way to ensure the First Peoples can continue to keep their heritage alive.
“We have proposed a monument for this space, and while we know that resources are difficult to come by in this period, we are still hoping at some time we will see an elaborate monument here to really grace this place and to make a statement that our First Peoples occupy this space.”
During work on the foundation of the Red House during the restoration in 2013, the bones of 60 indigenous people were found. These bones were reburied after a ceremony in 2019.
Bharath Hernandez said he was grateful for the government’s assistance in granting the community 25 acres of land in Arima, which would further encourage them to contribute to the borough and the nation through cultural and agricultural activities.
Arima MP Pennelope Beckles-Robinson said she was invited by Bharath Hernandez and was familiar with the traditions and customs of the First Peoples, given her experience in her constituency, where there was a relatively large population of indigenous people.