As part of Canada’s commitment to advance the rights of Indigenous peoples around the world through its bilateral, multilateral and regional collaboration, the Embassy of Canada in Mexico (MXICO) has been organizing since 2021 a series of roundtables with the participation of civil society and representatives from academia and the governments of Mexico and Canada. These dialogues offer a unique opportunity to strengthen cooperation on Indigenous affairs in North America and beyond, amplifying Indigenous voices and promoting exchanges on cultural, socioeconomic and political issues.
With the aim of involving more countries of the Americas in these dialogues, in 2022 MXICO partnered with the Canadian embassies in Ecuador (QUITO), Guatemala (GMLA), Panama (PANAM) and Peru (LIMA) to launch the first regional round table on Indigenous affairs. The event took place on the International Day of Indigenous Peoples (August 9, 2022), and its objective was to facilitate an exchange of experiences, lessons learned and recommendations regarding the role of Indigenous women in the protection and promotion of Indigenous languages and culture. The intention is to have a regional roundtable at least once a year.
This year, the Canadian embassies in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama and Peru co-organized on September 25 the second regional round table within the framework of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, commemorated in Canada on September 30. The day honors the children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process in Canada.
Below you will find the round table recording, as well as an infographic with the recommendations from the panelists. We encourage everyone to share these.
Carmen Mamani Espinal
Carmen Rosa is a Social Communicator with studies from the Universidad Amazónica de Pando, and has strong Aymara roots. For the last 12 years she has lived in the department of Pando, in the Bolivian Amazon, which has allowed her to have a broad view of the reality of the indigenous peoples of the lowlands and highlands of the country.
Carmen has worked in the State-owned channel Bolivia TV, in the production of audiovisual materials on the productive, economic, social and cultural reality of the people in the Amazon region. She has also carried out administrative activities at the Universidad Amazónica de Pando. In May 2023, Carmen joined the Professional Program focused on Indigenous Peoples of the Canadian Embassy in Bolivia. Her main interest is Human Rights and Communication, with a particular focus on gender and depatriarchalization.
Angela Lavallee is a First Nations woman from Manitoba, Canada. In 2015, Angela’s nine-month-old granddaughter Zaylynn Emerald Rain entered the spirit world. Like so many of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirited, the loss of Zaylynn came with many forms of injustices and unanswered questions. This ignited in Angela the passion to work towards a degree in Conflict Resolution and Criminal Justice. She is currently the wellness coordinator of the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, (Ojibway for “We all work together to help one another”), a family resource organization delivering community-based programs and services within the philosophy embodied in the name.
Judy Hughes is the Special Advisor to the Chief Executive Officer of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC). She has served as a consultant in the areas of training, research, advocacy and communications for many years and uses her extensive grassroots experience to effect change and encourage innovation in establishing community resources, business, and economic development. She played an integral role in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls as a non-legal advocate. Over the past 45 years, Judy has contributed to the equality and safety of Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ community members through policy and programs in health, violence prevention, justice, housing, employment and entrepreneurship. She has a distinguished career in the not-for-profit, government, public and private sectors.
Prior to joining NWAC, Judy completed a ten-year career with Statistics Canada in the Statistical Survey Operations Unit from 2011-2021. She is a Metis citizen who lives and works in Treaty 4 Territory and the homeland of the Metis in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Omaira Marcela Cárdenas Mendoza is an Indigenous leader of the Kankuamo people of the Sierra Nevada de Gonawindwa, known as Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, on the northern coast of Colombia. She is a lawyer graduated from the Universidad Popular del Cesar, a specialist in Human Rights from the Escuela Superior de Administración Publica ESAP and is currently a student of the specialisation in Constitutional Law at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia.
Omaira is an expert in Indigenous peoples’ rights, a defender of the rights of Indigenous women and children, trained in the Kunkurwas, ancestral spaces of the Sierra Nevada de Gonawindwa and the School of Indigenous Law “Freddy Antonio Arias Arias”. She has worked as a legal, human rights and women’s and peace advisor for the Kankuamo Indigenous people and the peoples of the Sierra Nevada. She currently works as a technical advisor to the Special High-Level Instance with Ethnic Peoples (IEANPE), created by the 2016 Peace Agreement, and is part of the peace team of the office of the Ministry of the Interior.
Max Hidalgo is an engineer in Management and Leadership. He has been an activist for the rights of youth, and this activism is reflected in all his professional and political career. He has been a member of the Pachakutik movement for more than 7 years and has worked in training the new generation of the MUPP, Movement of the Pluri-national Unit of Pachakutik. Max was elected as deputy provincial legislator for the Pachakutik movement in 2021 and is currently the chief of office of the Municipal Councillor Joselyn Mayorga in the city of Quito. He has worked in the last five years with First Nations and Peoples in processes for democracy and promotion of rights. He is the founder of the Ruray Foundation that works with youth to promote public policies from popular spaces to have an inclusive democracy.
Yinna Dalila Almaraz Muñoz is a young leader of the Kumiai Indigenous community La Huerta. She is an activist and promoter of culture and of the native peoples of Baja California, Mexico, and has carried out actions in favor of the revitalization and conservation of the Kumiai language. Yinna is also a painter and artisan, using traditional Kumiai techniques. Yinna holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the Autonomous University of Baja California. She recently worked in the Indigenous Infrastructure Program at the Representation Office of the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples in Baja California.
In March 2023, Yinna became the first intern of the Young Indigenous Professionals Program at the Canadian Embassy in Mexico. Among her interests are human rights, visual arts, cultural exchanges and the environment, among other topics.
Gilberto Abrego Quintero
Gilberto Abrego Quintero is a community leader of the indigenous Ngäbe people of Panama. In his early childhood, his parents decided to emigrate from his hometown to another province for economic reasons and social inequality. He completed primary, secondary and university studies and obtained a master’s degree in Administration and Evaluation of Development Projects, which enabled him to work with the ILO (United Nations) on economic governance programs aimed at indigenous peoples and project evaluation.
Additionally, he is a part-time university professor and provides trainings to strengthen the organizational and productive capacity of organizations, cooperatives and associations of the indigenous and rural communities of Panama. He is currently a consultant for the Indigenous Professionals Program at the Canadian Embassy in Panama.
Bíkut Toribio Sanchium Yampiag
Bíkut Toribio Sanchium Yampiag is a young Awajun from Bagua in the Amazon region. He studied economics and environmental management at the Antonio Ruiz de Montoya University. As an environmental investigative journalist and photojournalist, he has covered various socio-environmental and political conflicts in Peru. Bíkut´s academic interests focus on methods of measuring poverty, inequality, wealth, extractive sector and inclusive trade policies of indigenous peoples from Latin America, among others.
Bíkut is also a writer and poet. His third collection of poems will be published in October 2023 and in his work shares his vision of the Amazon, the importance of defending the human rights and the life of the andean-amazonian communities. Since September 2023 he joins the team of the Canadian Embassy in Peru as the fourth representative of the Indigenous Professional Program.