International Day of World Indigenous Peoples
Monday 9th August 2021
Today we celebrate the international day of the world’s indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples are the custodians of thousands of years of culture and traditions—they are living and breathing history.
We pay special homage to Fiji’s indigenous peoples, the I-taukei. The traditional custodians of our rich culture and the ‘Vanua’. The Vanua, understood in context, is much more than just land. It is deeply tied and connected to our past and in the same way to our future. Our indigenous people therefore have an important role to play in the conservation of natural ecosystems and we all have a lot to learn from them in this regard. In fact, the I-taukei term for ‘Natural Resources’ is “Yau-Bula” which is directly translated to mean “Living Treasures”.
Indigenous peoples the world over often face marginalisation, exclusion and discrimination. We ought to respect the rights of indigenous peoples and offer meaningful spaces to ensure that their voices are heard and their rights respected.
In this regard, the ability of our indigenous community to fully utilise their resources for economic empowerment is as important as making the resources available for use by other communities. This is vital for social and economic advancement our nation.
We wish all our people a happy International day for the world’s indigenous peoples.
Professor Biman Prasad