May 4, 2021

The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) extends best wishes to all Guyanese on the observance of Arrival Day 2021.A day which commemorates the historical arrival of numerous indentured servants of diverse ethnic heritages to Guyana, to replace slave labor on the sugar plantations after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.

On this occasion, the ERC wishes to take the opportunity to reiterate the need for all Guyanese to build together upon their gains and to continue robustly the process of fostering unity and harmony.

Today, we celebrate the enrichment of diversity that Arrival Day embodies in the shaping of modern Guyana. Arrival Day is most significant for what it represents in the context of the multi-faceted mosaic it created and for which our country is known.

Our hodgepodge of multiculturalism was as a result of the untold sacrifices, desires and steadfastness of our ancestors, to practice and preserve their rich and colourful cultural traditions, having come to this land from different parts of the world at different times in our history.

In doing so individually through the various ethnic groups, sharing and participation in each other’s traditions forged our dear nation to become multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural. That is evident as all participate meaningfully in each other’s festivities which have transcended religious and ethnic boundaries to become truly national observances.

Over time, that rich, beautiful and vibrant diversity has become our strength and the common bond in the process of becoming one people, working towards a common destiny. While there have been challenges along the way, our Guyanese brothers and sisters have always found ways to foster togetherness through tolerance and respect. Herein lies the desire of all of our people for harmony and unity to be strengthened and for it to continue to prevail across this land that is home to all.

This is imperative in the interest of our nation and all its peoples so that our diversity must never be made a tool for division but one that will continue to reflect our strength and bonds of togetherness. May 5th also marks the anniversary of the arrival of our East Indian ancestors who reached these shores on that day in 1838 while on May 3rd , the arrival of the Portuguese was observed.

The colourful commemorative events across the country will once again serve to bring our people together, allowing opportunities to not only participate, but for the continuation of that important process of educating for a better understanding and appreciation of our cultural traditions. This builds tolerance which is the bedrock of harmony and unity as we strive for one people out of many cultures.

As Guyanese record another milestone amidst the difficult and threatening COVID-19 crisis, the ERC nevertheless emphasizes the importance of continuing to observe all the necessary precautions and regulations.

Happy Arrival Day to all Guyanese here and in the Diaspora from the Management and Staff of the Ethnic Relations Commission!