Wednesday, May 22, 2024
May 22, 2024

OGIFA hosts Mayan presenter

Salt Spring Island is lucky to be included as one of 18 stops on a B.C.-wide tour of a Mayan woman with deep experience in fighting for social and environmental justice in Guatemala.

On Tuesday, May 14 at noon at Salt Spring Island United Church, Salt Spring’s Ometepe Gulf Islands Friendship Association (OGIFA) will host a presentation by Neydi Juracán, national coordinator of Campesino Committee of the Highlands (known as the CCDA) on their Café Justicia fair-trade coffee program and their work for environmental justice.

Juracán is a Kakchiquel Maya from the village of Santa Cruz Quixaya. Prior to her election as national coordinator in 2023, she was the director of the CCDA’s Café Justicia program, coordinating the processing and export to Canada of coffee produced by CCDA farmers.

The CCDA is a national small farmer and rural workers’ movement that defends the lands, culture and labour rights of Mayan communities in Guatemala. More than 800 communities are active in the CCDA, and the group played a role in the five-month struggle to defend democracy in that country last fall.

Salt Spring became one of Juracán’s stops due to OGIFA chair Nedjo Rogers’ long friendship with Steve Stewart, coordinator of the BC CASA-Café Justicia. Stewart recently returned from taking a delegation of coffee roasters down to Guatemala, and OGIFA would similarly like to lead a trip to see the farming operations where OGIFA coffee comes from on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua.

Rogers said his group members were delighted when Jeremy Simons, grandson of two OGIFA cofounders Marg and Art Simons, came to a special OGIFA event held in February at the library. As Simons had spent some time in Nicaragua and was familiar with OGIFA through his grandparents’ activities, he is interested in leading a visit to Ometepe.

“So it’s super timely to have these much more seasoned kind of international partnership folks here to just pick their brains because they do regular solidarity delegations,” said Rogers. “I feel like we’ve got a lot to learn from them and I’m looking forward to those opportunities.”

Neydi’s B.C. speaking tour is co-sponsored by BC CASA-Café Justicia, CoDevelopment Canada and the BC Council for International Cooperation.

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