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CDB’s 2024 Indigenous Peoples Forum: Uniting leaders for economic empowerment and cultural recognition

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) will host an Indigenous Peoples Forum focused on collaboration with Canada during its upcoming Annual Meeting in Ottawa, Canada. The forum, titled “Catalysing Caribbean-Canada Collaboration on Indigenous Peoples Affairs for Resilient Prosperity” will take place on June 17, 2024, during CDB’s Annual Meeting.

The hybrid, all-day event, which builds on CDB’s ongoing efforts to empower Indigenous communities, and integrate their voices into regional development strategies, aims to strengthen ties and knowledge exchange between Indigenous Peoples in the Caribbean and Canada, and strengthen collaboration on issues impacting Indigenous Peoples in the region.

Through presentations, panel discussions, and roundtable sessions, participants will explore key areas such as food security, climate change, economic empowerment, legal frameworks and governance, and capacity building.

Five key priority themes identified through consultations with Indigenous communities and a recent survey will be addressed: alternative worldviews and decolonising knowledge and Indigenous education; protection of the rights of and accessibility of services for Indigenous peoples; full, effective participation, partnerships, and benefit sharing; formal and informal governance mechanisms, capacity building for governance and protection of Indigenous Peoples’ intellectual property; and cultural exchange and resource sharing.

CDB’s division chief, social sector, Dr Martin Baptiste said: “Ongoing engagement with the Indigenous Peoples of the Region reflects the focus of CDB in ensuring that vulnerable communities remain at the centre of the development enterprise. The more we are able to advance the social and economic empowerment of underserved communities, the more the core mandate of the Bank of ‘transforming lives’ moves from a strategic priority to sustained reality.” 

The Caribbean will be represented by 15 individuals from Indigenous Peoples and Tribal Groups from Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. Six representatives from Canada, inclusive of Elders and Knowledge Keepers from each major group of Indigenous People of Canada, and at least three subject matter experts from academia will be part of the discussions.

The Forum will also feature a physical and digital exhibition of Indigenous arts and crafts, highlighting the contributions of Indigenous communities to the region’s cultural fabric, and an Indigenous Peoples Resource Corner with research materials for exploration.

In 2023, CDB facilitated training workshops for community development professionals, many of whom are Indigenous Peoples. The bank also included Indigenous voices in the development of the Suriname Country Engagement Strategy.

According to the World Bank, Indigenous Peoples make up approximately six per cent of the global population. However, worldwide, they account for about 19 percent of the extreme poor. Indigenous Peoples have less access to quality education, formal employment, and financial services and are among those more likely to be impacted by natural hazards. Countries within the Caribbean with notable numbers of Indigenous Peoples include Dominica, Guyana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Belize.



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