The following is a press release from the Maroon Women Chamber of Cooperation – Gloria Simms – Jamaica, Fidelia Graand-Galon – Suriname, Akilah Jaramogi – Trinidad and Tobago. These Maroons represent centuries of fight and stance against injustice in every form.
Caribbean Indigenous and Maroon Women call for action on World Environment Day June 5, 2020. Everywhere around the world, World Environment Day is being observed against the backdrop of growing unrest and demands of social justice for people of African descent. This year’s theme ‘It’s Time for Nature’ is especially resonant for us of the Maroon Women Chamber of Cooperation. As survivors of generations of colonial violence and repression, we continue to struggle for self-determination as people of African descent and the freedom to live in communion with the natural environment that has been our source of survival for centuries.
In a recent online meeting that brought together women from across the region and diaspora, we agreed to approach CARICOM on a number of issues. As our leaders engage in discussions on COVID-19 recovery, we ask that our Maroon communities have a seat at the table in the conversation. Whether the challenge is COVID-19 or Climate Change, we believe that our voices need to be heard and considered in the development of a sustainable development plan for this region. We believe that we are deserving of respect and visibility in national and regional discussions on a way forward for the Caribbean.
We believe that we should have the endorsement of individual and regional governments and agencies to support the development and propagation of modes of survival and community resilience that have come out of our Maroon legacy. We call on the governments of the Caribbean to look to our communities for the answers to some of the pressing issues we are facing, even as these communities struggle to survive because we cannot fully practice the modes of resilience we inherited from our foremothers and fathers.
As we move into the hurricane season, some of our communities are on the brink of collapse because of the economic impact of COVID-19. We call for urgent action to ensure resilience and survival. We call on our governments to rethink their COVID-19 relief efforts to include and support people-driven initiatives. Land rights, spiritual autonomy, racial discrimination and access to state resources to mitigate the effects of climate change are all social justice issues. They cannot and should not be separated from each other. We call on our governments to acknowledge these connections and act before it is too late.