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Barbadian First Caribbean National in Arctic Circle!

Article Published on page 14 A, of the October 7th 2001 Sunday Sun Newspaper.

Damon Gerard Corrie, a 28 year-old Barbadian born of Arawak (Guyana) descent and leader of 13,125 Amerindians in Guyana, returned to Barbados on September 15th 2001, after having completed a United Nations sponsored training course for Indigenous leaders in the city of Sisimiut, Greenland.

Mr. Corrie was one of 20 Indigenous leaders selected by the ITCIP (International Training Centre of Indigenous Peoples) worldwide - of which only 16 actually made it to Greenland, this was also the first time that the ITCIP held the course within the Arctic Circle in Greenland - as in the previous two sessions it was held further south in the capital city of Nuuk; Sisimiut is 40 miles into the Arctic Circle.

When asked about his impressions of the country Corrie had this to say " At first I was shocked not to see a single tree, and virtually no soil worth mentioning, and my first remark was 'this place should be called Grey-land; but as time passed I became overawed by the beauty of the place, the sea is royal blue and as calm as a lake - but so cold that if you swam in it for 10 minutes you would freeze to death, the bare granite mountains - which incidentally are the oldest on Earth being 3.5 billion years old, are studded with crystals as are the common stones - which has the glittering effect of diamonds when struck by sunlight. Although we were there at the height of Summer daytime temperature never exceeded 9 degrees celcius - with sub-zero being the norm every night - yet there was no wind chill factor and I was able to walk about town at night with semi-formal attire by Barbadian standards; I was also the only member of the group NOT to contract a cold - or bother to turn on the heater in my room. I really enjoyed seeing whales and seals mere feet away from me, and the feeling of not sweating for 2 weeks.

And the people of Greenland ? " This is what impressed me the most for the Inuit people (mistakenly called 'Eskimos') of Kalaalit Nunaat (Greenland) are undoubtedly the most civilised ethnic group in the world - if you judge them by Western standards. They have never had a history of inter-tribal warfare, they (the Greenland home-rule government) has Police forces but do not have any jails - because they have no violent crime, and the rare cases of petty crime they do experience are resolved sucessfully through counselling. But don't be fooled into thinking that they have a virtual paradise due to their presumned isolation and 'primitiveness' because the Inuit people of Greenland are more sophisticated than the Americans we love to emulate , every child 13 years and over has a cellular phone, a PC & DVD player in the home, can speak 3 languages - Greenlandic (Inuit), Dansk (Danish) and English (how many of us even bother to learn 1 foreign language?), they have no mendicants on the street and no unemployment, a comprehensive social safety net, complete equality of the sexes and are quite trendy when it comes to fashion sense. They are very friendly to tourists and eager to offer assistance when asked. They also have no obesity, narcotic addictions, diabetes or Alchoholism problems in their society - which is plagueing Native American communities. In fact the only health vice I noticed appeared to be smoking cigarettes - but as yet they have no significant lung cancer death rate for the 50,000 of them inhabiting Greenland - which is a bit larger than Australia! They even created the worlds' largest wildlife refuge - and all of this with their own revenue, by no means is the Greenland Home Rule Government being 'propped-up' by the government of Denmark as is the case of the Israel - USA relationship.

The Mayor of Sisimiut - the Honourable Hermann Berthelsen informed Mr. Corrie that he was the first person on record from the Caribbean to have entered the Arctic Circle in Greenland, Damon plans to send the mayor a Barbados flag to commemmorate the fact.

As a result of the alliances formed within the diverse group of Indigenous leaders from around the world, the Pan-Tribal Confederacy of Amerindian Tribal Nations in Guyana that Damon founded in 1996 and continues to lead - will now be networking with the Massai of Kenya, the San community (mistakenly known as 'Bushmen') in South Africa, the native Hawaiians, Indigenous Siberians, Crimean Tartars, and the Hmar tribe of North-East India - not to mention the Native American Law Centre in New Mexico USA that provided the Professors who conducted the actual training course. In Corrie's words "Our foot is in the door at Geneva atlast, the wheel of history can only move forward for us now".

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