The OPSEU Indigenous Circle has partnered with Horizons of Friendship for an Indigenous knowledge exchange to Guatemala on February 7-17, 2020 as part of their Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health: Transforming Indigenous Lives (MNCH) project. In February 2017, Region 7 member Geri Kakeeway met with Mayan partners during a trip to Guatemala. Subsequent to the trip, Mayan women from the communities there joined the OPSEU Indigenous Water Ceremony and symposium on March 2, 2017 at George Brown University on UN World Water Day. Some of the women partnered with the OPSEU Indigenous Circle and Wikwemkoong Unceded First Nation for the Indigenous Conference on Manitoulin Island on June 22-24, 2018.
The next step of this partnership includes sending OPSEU members who are health care practitioners and/or Indigenous members who work with women who have experienced violence. The OPSEU Indigenous Circle invites any interested Indigenous members who meet the following criteria to apply for the project that includes a week-long trip to Guatemala in February 2020. The cost of the trip is covered by Horizons of Friendship and any OPSEU members who are selected are asked to use vacation days, if at all possible, to attend the trip. Please submit a statement of intent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 pm on August 16, 2019. Applicants will be selected by August 30, 2019 by a team that includes a representative from Horizons.
Horizons of Friendship is organizing the trip and is searching for three participants from OPSEU, ideally:
- One Indigenous physician, with experience or familiarity with Indigenous cultural practices surrounding maternal/child care
- One Indigenous nurse, with experience or familiarity with Indigenous cultural practices surrounding maternal/child care
- One Indigenous social worker, with experience or knowledge of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and gender violence affecting Indigenous women
Spanish fluency is helpful but not necessary, as simultaneous Spanish-to-English translation will be available. Horizons is also reaching out to the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives/Canadian Association of Midwives to explore the possibility of having two to four Indigenous midwives join the group.
In addition to the trip, the selected members are expected to collaborate with the Indigenous Circle and Horizons on its public engagement commitment (see below).
Knowledge Exchange and Public Engagement
Horizons and the OPSEU Indigenous Circle will work together on the following actions related to the exchange of experiences and knowledge, along with public engagement, beginning in Spring 2019 and concluding in Spring 2020:
- Horizons and the OPSEU Indigenous Circle will collaborate on the final knowledge exchange to Guatemala in February 2020, to be formed by a group of Indigenous health practitioners, leaders or advocates in a field addressing women and children’s health and related issues such as gender violence. Horizons will welcome two to three OPSEU Indigenous Circle members, or OPSEU members who identify as Indigenous, and fulfill the aforementioned criteria, to be part of this exchange.
- Horizons and the OPSEU Indigenous Circle will seek to collaborate on an event open to OPSEU members this fall during the final knowledge exchange with Guatemalan visitors
- Horizons and the OPSEU Indigenous Circle will work together to continue engaging OPSEU members in educational activities related to Indigenous rights and health – in the context of both Canada and Guatemala. This may include a presentation or panel in venues that the Indigenous Circle deems appropriate.
- Horizons will share with the OPSEU Indigenous Circle a best practices in public engagement document to share its lessons learned in engaging people living in Canada on global health, as well as facilitating exchanges between Indigenous peoples in Canada and Guatemala, which can then be distributed to the OPSEU membership.
The above actions will see Horizons and the OPSEU Indigenous Circle work towards education on the culture, traditions, health and rights of Indigenous peoples living in both Canada and Guatemala.