#IndigenousPeople; #SDGs; #UN
New York/Canadian-Media: The wisdom and knowledge of indigenous people in Guatemala is central to the realization of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, targets agreed by countries around the world to end poverty, maintain peace and preserve the health of the planet, UN reports said.
Families from Cotzal Quiché weave typical costumes as part of a project supported by UN Guatemala. Image credit: UN Guatemala/Hector Delgado
The UN Resident Coordinator in Guatemala Rebeca Arias Flores explains how sustainable development is not new, but simply a new name that draws on ancient wisdom that is renewed with each generation of indigenous people.
The UN Resident Coordinator, sometimes called the RC, is the highest-ranking representative of the UN development system at the country level.
“Now more than ever, we must heed the wisdom of indigenous peoples. This wisdom calls upon us to care for the earth so that not only our generation may enjoy it, but that future generations may as well."
This wisdom is passed down to us through stories and spirits. Consider the example of Nawal, a supernatural spirit of harvests that can take on animal forms, according to Mesoamerican beliefs. On certain days in the indigenous calendar, people call on Nawal for a good harvest. It is a fine thing to have one good harvest. It is even better for the earth to yield its bounty again and again. To enjoy such repeated success, farmers in the area know they must respect the seasons, to plant, to sow, to let the land lay fallow for a time.
This wisdom was also articulated in a declaration from 2012, on an auspicious date in the Mayan calendar. It was Oxlajuj B’aktun or a “change of era,” the end of a cycle that lasts more than 5,000 years. On that date, the three UN entities working with indigenous peoples came together in Guatemala, their first joint meeting outside the UN’s New York headquarters.
Together, they issued a declaration pleading with humanity to respect human rights, promote harmony with nature, and pursue development that respects ancestral wisdom. These three bodies included the Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues, the Mechanism of Experts on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
This wisdom found its way into “K’atun: Our Guatemala 2032”, the national plan which has guided sustainable development of three successive administrations. It serves as the compass for the country’s UN Cooperation Framework for Sustainable Development 2020-2024, created in collaboration with the Government of Guatemala.
Indigenous Guatemalans hit hardest by coronavirus pandemic
To pursue K’atun, we must look at the status of indigenous peoples. In Guatemala, they are amongst the most vulnerable people because they are constantly displaced from their ancestral lands. Data from recent years show that the poverty rate among indigenous people was 79 per cent, almost 30 points above the national average. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic eight out of every 10 indigenous girls, boys and adolescents, live in poverty. Only six finish primary school, only two go to secondary school, and one goes to university. Six in 10 indigenous children under five years of age suffer from chronic malnutrition.
COVID-19 is devastating for all of Guatemala. Many people are sick, some are dying, and countless others are losing their livelihoods because of the disease itself and because the quarantine prevents them from working and earning money.
However hard the pandemic hits Guatemala, it will hit the indigenous peoples even harder. They were already the furthest left behind, and now they will be set back even more. The situation of indigenous women, who are often the main providers for their families, is even more worrisome.
Indigenous people hold key to collective survival
And yet, indigenous people are seeking their own solutions, drawing on their own ingenuity. They are using traditional knowledge and practices to contain the disease.
We all must concern ourselves with the wellbeing of indigenous peoples, for their sake. We must respect their wisdom, for their sake. We must protect their human rights, for their sake. We must include them in decision-making, for their sake. It is only right.
But we must also do this for the sake of all Guatemalans. All of Guatemala, indeed, the whole world, has much to learn from indigenous peoples. It is a painful irony that they have been so exploited and oppressed, and yet they may hold a key to our collective survival. It is a painful irony, too, that indigenous people are among those most affected by climate change, and yet they contribute the least to it.
Without indigenous people, neither Guatemala nor the rest of the world will achieve sustainable development. Without indigenous people we cannot enjoy the gifts of the earth and maintain them for all those who will come after us. This is and must be the work of all governments and all people.
75 years ago, the signatories of the United Nations Charter reaffirmed “the dignity and worth of the human person.”
Now, let us reaffirm that belief once more. And let us ensure that indigenous people are included in it.”
#Canada; #CatherineMcKenna; #COVID19ResilienceStream; #Investing
Ottawa, Aug 14 (Canadian-Media): Speech by Catherine McKenna Canada's Minister of Infrastructure and Communities at the COVID-19 Resilience Stream/Investing in Canada plan flexibilities announcement.
Catherine McKenna. Image credit: Official
"It’s a pleasure to be here today with Stephen Bekta, the chair of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa and Owen Charters, President and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.
I would like to acknowledge that the land on which we gather is the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg People. We are grateful to have the opportunity to be present in this territory.
It is so great to be back here at the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa speaking to you in person. I know we’ve all missed having in-person gatherings like this, and it’s especially fitting for today’s announcement – which in many ways is all about bringing people together.
People are faced with such different challenges today than only a few months ago. The pandemic has brought losses - human suffering and economic costs - and we’ve learned some vital, if painful, lessons.
We know how to reduce the impact of the pandemic, to protect more lives, and to rebuild businesses and create jobs.
We’re painfully aware of the need to improve safety for older people who are living in long-term care facilities.
We know the importance of school for children, and we know that parents are struggling with what is the best thing for their child this fall.
Immediate and different investments in public infrastructure are needed now to Build Up, to address the health risks, create jobs, and make healthy, resilient communities.
That’s why I am announcing today that we’re adapting our infrastructure program to make it easier to invest in making schools safer for children and long-term care facilities safer for aging people. We also need ways for people to exercise and appreciate nature without putting themselves at risk.
We’re speeding up project approvals, opening up the kind of projects eligible for funding, and offering a bigger federal cost share.
Under the new COVID-19 Resilience funding stream, the federal government will pay 80 per cent of the cost for projects that have a value of less than $10 million and can be completed by the end of 2021. Projects in the Territories are eligible for 100 per cent federal funding, and have an extra year to be completed.
We’re also making some changes to the eligibility criteria in the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, for projects that can start in the near term.
For example, mobile phone and cellular projects are now eligible for funding, as are inter-city transit projects.
The health and well-being of Canadians has been—and will continue to be—the top priority of our government. But this pandemic has affected more than our personal health. It has also affected our economy.
Which is why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the $19-billion Safe Restart Agreement on July 16. It includes $2 billion for cities and towns across Canada to support front line workers and critical municipal services, which will be cost-matched by the provinces and territories.
The Government of Canada will also cost-match more than $1.8 billion to support any additional provincial/territorial contributions made for public transit. Here in Ontario, the federal contribution to transit operations is $1 billion.
We are in a time of transition and adaptation. The whole world is.
Every dollar we invest should do triple duty – creating jobs and economic stability, making communities more resilient, especially given the changing climate, and making communities equitable so that everyone has a fair shot to succeed.
I want to leave you with this thought: the trauma of this pandemic will pass, but in its wake the world will be a different place, and Canada will be too.
We have the chance to think carefully about the Canada we need and the Canada we want in the future.
To make the choices that ensure we are that country that lives its values -- of compassion, equality, optimism, concern for the planet.
The post-pandemic world will be full of new opportunities, and I want to help our people take advantage of those opportunities.
#Hamilton; #Ontario; #LGBTQ; #RedeemerUniversity; #BiblicalIntentions; #Christianity
Hamilton (Ontario), Aug 4 (Canadian-Media): Redeemer University, a private Christian school in the Hamilton area, is facing criticism its anti-LGBTQ policies from LGBTQ alumni who said that fear among LGBTQ attendees prevails, media reports said.
Redeemer University. Image credit: Twitter handle
Redeemer University based its school policy on the theory of "biblical intentions," and said disciplinary actions would be taken against the students who were found to engage in any sexual behaviour that occurs outside a heterosexual marriage.
"This covers a broad range of sexual behaviour by students when it falls outside biblical intentions and/or explicit guidelines. These include sexual intimacies which occur outside of a heterosexual marriage, including any type of intercourse or sexual relations or involvement with pornographic material," the policy says, reported by CBC News.
When asked by CBC News from a number of Redeemer students, past and present, some refused to speak for fear of retaliation from the university or as they had not publicly revealed their sexual orientation.
But all of them expressed concerns about the school's discriminatory policy against LGBTQ students.
The school justifies its policy and says it is part of the Reformed Christian tradition and does not discriminate.
Same-sex marriage became legal in Canada in 2005.
Human rights experts said that Redeemer's policy could lead to lawsuits and human rights complaints.
"They're not discriminating against [students] because they're Christian, they're discriminating against them because they're LGBTQ by this code of conduct," Susan Ursel, the Toronto lawyer who represented the Canadian Bar Association against Trinity Western, told CBC.
"You can discriminate on the basis of only wanting Christians, sure, but once you're inside your Christian community, you don't get to pick and choose whether you like people who are gay or straight. You take your community the way you find it and you serve it."
Personal accounts from students and alumni, many of whom identify within the LGBTQ community is contained in the the Rainbow Report, a 45-page document submitted to the university in 2019.
Many students said they did not feel safe on campus and some left school before graduation.
"The question for decision makers in our courts is, 'Can religion do anything it wants? Or in a decent, multicultural, diverse society, are there even limits on what religion can do?" Ursel said, reported by CBC.
#BC; #VancouverPride; #VirtualParade
British Columbia (B.C.), Aug 2 (Canadian-Media): B.C. Premier John Horgan has issued the following statement to mark Vancouver Pride, media reports said.
Vancouver Pride. Image credit: Twitter handle
“Pride began as a protest. And that work continues, as many LGBTQ2S+ people around the world still fight for basic rights that many people take for granted: equal marriage, access to adoption, legal protections for gender expression and gender identity.
“This time last year, Vancouver was getting ready to welcome over 650,000 people on its streets marching in support of the annual Pride parade. This year, Vancouver Pride Week has looked a bit different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I know that losing the opportunity to come together in person in recognition, celebration and solidarity has been incredibly difficult.
“Many people continue to be targeted with harassment and discrimination because of their gender or sexuality. Our government has taken some first steps to making our province more inclusive for LGBTQ and two-spirit people, including teaching sexual orientation and gender identity inclusive education, re-establishing the human rights commission and implementing a gender-X option for provincial identification.
“As we mark the Vancouver Pride parade virtually this year, I hope everyone takes this opportunity to learn more about LGTBQ2S+ history, celebrate how far we’ve come and recognize how far we have to go.
“Pride cannot be cancelled.
“Together, we will build a province where everyone can live without fear of violence or discrimination, where everyone can take pride in who they are.”