Guyanese in Winnipeg celebrate 50th anniversary of country's independence
South American country was under British rule for more than 150 years before it gained independence
Members of the local Guyanese community are flying the South American country's flag high at Winnipeg City Hall on Thursday.
Guyana won autonomy 50 years ago today, after more than 150 years under British rule.
"It was probably the most turbulent time in Guyana's history — it had a very painful history of colonization," Sukhan said.
Sukhan, who was 12 when the country became independent, still has vivid memories from the early '60s of building fires, "smoke in the sky" and British soldiers driving through the streets in Land Rovers. Sukhan said although she didn't quite grasp what was happening, she knew something was wrong.
"The British spent a lot of time dividing us along racial lines, and so suddenly people who were your neighbours were no longer your friends," she said.
That rift imposed on the people hit home for Sukhan's family, which employed a nanny of a different race.
On May 26, 1966,the country set off down a path of independence and toward developing a new cultural identity.
"People were waving their flag; we had a new flag to fly, we had a new country. It was a sense of pride," she said.
Four years later as a 16-year-old, Sukhan moved to Winnipeg to marry her husband as part of an arranged marriage. Almost 50 years have passed and the couple is still married.
Members of the Guyanese Cultural Organization and Guyanese Association of Manitoba raised the country's flag at city hall with Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and others at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Sukhan is the author of In Search of the Blue Lotus: A Feminist Counter-Narrative to the Dominant Hegemonic Discourse, a book that touches on Guyana's fight for independence.