Today we bid farewell and salute one of Guyana’s outstanding daughters, the late Dr. Desrey Fox, who suddenly and to our great shock passed to the great beyond a few days ago.

On Tuesday last, while I was in Trinidad and Tobago, I received a telephone call from Dr. George Norton, M.P., informing me of the accident involving the Minister. He was at the time at the hospital and I immediately enquired how serious was her condition. He advised me that she had serious injuries involving broken bones but that it was not life threatening. On my return on Wednesday, I made further inquires and was again informed that she was stable and should recover in the course of time. You will appreciate my shock, as I assume it was for all of us, when we received the news that she had died. There is more to be known on this matter but not at this time and on this occasion. Later I will deal with those matters.

Born on January 2, 1955 in the little Akawayo village of Waramadong in Upper Mazaruni she rose to be an exemplary student, professional nurse, researcher, and scholar. Moreover, she departed as a member of the Highest Court of the Land, the National Assembly of the Parliament of Guyana. Her significant achievements have been chronicled in the local media over the past few days since her death and repeated here today. I would not, in the time allotted to me, therefore, repeat them. I simple acknowledge them and say that they were no ordinary achievements for any daughter of the soil irrespective of their place of birth.

She will, perhaps, be most remembered and acknowledged for the work she did over the 29 years she spent at the Amerindian Research Unit of University of Guyana and her many publications on the Amerindian language and culture. As one of the founding members and the longest serving in that Unit, she became an icon and a reservoir of information on the indigenous people of Guyana, not only of the Akawayo, but also of all indigenous people of our country.

I have had the pleasure of knowing her for several years. I reflect on the ever-present rainbow as I traveled up the Kamarang River to Waramadong where I had many pleasant memories and remembrances of conversations with her father Gibson Caesar. My last in-depth conversation with her was in early 2006 when she felt that the Research Unit would have been disbanded at the University due to inadequate funding. She was distraught and at the point of tears. When I met her later that year in the corridors of Parliament, I mused with her that she was now in a position to correct that situation.

As we pay tribute and reflect on her achievements and contributions, we ought to be comforted by the fact that she used her time spent on this planet usefully and productively to improve the lot of her people and demonstrate by example that the sky is the limit for those who earnestly and vigorously pursue their goals.

She cannot really die. She will continually live in the memories of those who worked along with her and experienced her indefatigable energy as she pursued her tasks. I am confident that she will continue to live in the memories of all whose lives she touched; in the memories of the people of Waramadong and the entire indigenous people of Guyana and in the hearts of all with whom she shared her love.

On behalf of the Parliamentary Opposition, the PNCR, and on behalf of my family I wish to place on record our appreciation for her service to Guyana, generally, and the Amerindian Community, in particular. We extend sympathy to her entire family and express the hope that God will provide them with the strength and fortitude to deal with this great loss.

Her life reminds us of the Guyana national song, "The Song of Guyana’s Children":

“Born in the land of the mighty Roraima,
Land of great rivers and far stretching sea;”
“in the land of Kaieteur’s shining splendour
Land of the palm tree, the croton and fern”
“….. in the land where men sought El Dorado,
Land of the Diamond and bright shining gold,”

As we review and evaluate her life’s work, it would be reasonable to assume that she made a reality of, or emulated W. Hawley-Bryant’s composition, “The Song of Guyana’s Children” and made the Chorus of that song his personal Anthem.

“So like the mountain, the sea and the river
Great, wide and deep in our lives would we be;”
“We would possess all the virtues and graces,
We all the glory of goodness would learn.”
“We would build up by our faith, love and labour,
God’s golden city which never grows old”
Chorus: / Her Anthem
“Onward, upward, may we ever go
Day by day in strength and beauty grow,
Till at length we each of us may show,
What Guyana’s sons and daughters can be.”

She, indeed, demonstrated what a Guyana daughter could achieve with hard work and dedication.

May her soul rest in peace!

Leader PNCR
Leader of the Opposition