Maya K'iche women meet Inuit, First Nations peoples to discuss Maternal & Child Health
The Guatemalan women traveled across two provinces & one territory - in just 10 days.
As part of the Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (MNCH) project in Totonicapán, Guatemala, which is funded by the Government of Canada, Horizons leads reciprocal knowledge exchanges between Canadian and Guatemalan health practitioners and advocates.
These exchanges revolve around two goals: 1) to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and best-practices related to maternal, newborn, and child health which may be of use to Guatemalan and Canadian health practitioners; and 2) to engage Canadians on the importance of Canadian international development and its efforts to improve maternal and child health, while simultaneously providing an opportunity for Canadians and Guatemalans to learn about the health situations of Indigenous peoples living in Canada.
On November 2018, two traditional Indigenous Maya midwives, the Head Nurse of the Totonicapán Health Directorate (DAST), and a health educator with local project partner PIES de Occidente who is also an Indigenous Maya community leader, visited Canada to do just that.
This blog post provides a small glimpse into their whirlwind of an exchange across cities, towns and communities spanning two provinces - and one territory - all over the course of 10 days.
Two Guatemalan participants had the honour and privilege to visit Rankin Inlet, Nunavut through this particular knowledge exchange. Graciously welcomed by Rachel Jones (Acting Manager of Maternal and Newborn Health Services), Cas Connelly (a former Canada-to-Guatemala exchange participant), and their wonderful colleagues at the Kivalliq Wellness Centre, which is part of the Nunanuvt Department of Health’s services in the region, María del Rosario and Margarita had the opportunity to learn about the health situation of Inuit peoples living across Nunavut, and share knowledge and best-practices related to maternal, newborn, and child health.
The group also met with Inuit Elders Johnny Ayaruaq and Monica Ugjuk, with both keepers of cultural knowledge sharing the history of Rankin Inlet as well as the traditional birthing practices of Inuit peoples.
Meanwhile, Mirna and Irma visited several communities in Ontario and Quebec to speak directly with hundreds of Canadians on the challenging MNCH realities in Totonicapán, and how this project is working to address them. Presentations, panels and public engagement opportunities with religious organizations and service clubs, civil society and like-minded groups, educational institutions, public health units and health practitioners, as well as elementary schools, were carried out in Hamilton, Toronto, Oshawa, Peterborough, Cobourg, Kingston, Ottawa and Montreal. The four Guatemalan women reunited to close this unique chapter in the MNCH project’s story by having a meeting with members of the Dibaajimowin Cultural Centre in Northumberland County, where the cultural practices of Indigenous peoples living in Canada and Guatemala were shared.