During an eight-day visit to El Salvador, Lynne Groulx, CEO of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), achieved a significant milestone by signing a groundbreaking Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between NWAC and the General Secretariat of the Central American Integration System (SG-SICA). This historic event signifies the advancement of international relationships that will foster cultural and economic exchange, benefiting Indigenous Peoples throughout the Americas. Here are the details of this momentous Indigenous diplomatic mission:
Breakthrough in Indigenous Relations:
Lynne Groulx expressed her satisfaction with the outcomes of the Indigenous diplomatic mission, stating, “We broke important barriers. We haven’t been talking enough as Indigenous Peoples across the national boundaries established through colonization. It is extremely powerful when Indigenous Peoples unite.”
Focus of the MOU:
The landmark MOU centers around Indigenous priorities championed by NWAC, including women’s empowerment, economic justice, opportunities for trade and economic sustainability, as well as conservation and balance with nature. This comprehensive agreement recognizes the significance of promoting and strengthening cooperative relations between Canada and the Central American Integration System (SICA).
Impacts and Benefits:
The magnitude of this agreement opens doors for NWAC to expedite the implementation of its outlined priorities, which will have far-reaching benefits for Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, transgender, and gender-diverse+ (WG2STGD+) peoples across the Americas. The SICA represents over 60 different Indigenous groups, comprising approximately 20 percent of the total population of Central America. Member states include Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and the Dominican Republic.
Taking Action and Building Relationships:
As part of her commitment to fulfilling the terms of the MOU, Lynne Groulx will embark on visits to each of the SICA member countries. Additionally, during her visit to El Salvador, she engaged in building relationships on various levels. She had the honor of meeting Vice-President Felix Ulloa to discuss trade between Indigenous Peoples, expanding business opportunities, and fostering cultural exchanges. Ms. Groulx also established connections with local Indigenous women artists, artisans, and entrepreneurs, acquiring remarkable artwork and textiles for NWAC’s Sisters in Spirit America’s Collection. Furthermore, she met with the Women in Coffee Association of El Salvador (AMCES) and the Salvadorian Coffee Council (CSC) to explore knowledge exchange and trade relationships, which aligns perfectly with NWAC’s upcoming coffee line that will support their programs for Indigenous WG2STGD+ individuals.
Renewal of Indigenous Relationships:
Reflecting on the significance of the international relationships being cultivated by NWAC, Lynne Groulx emphasizes that this renewal echoes the Indigenous relationships that were once commonplace across the Americas. Quoting an Inca prophecy, she states, “‘When the Eagle of the North flies with the Condor of the South, the spirit of the land she will re-awaken.'” Ms. Groulx highlights that Indigenous Peoples have envisioned and eagerly awaited this resurgence for a long time.
Accompanying Lynne Groulx on this Indigenous diplomatic mission to El Salvador were Salvadorian Ambassador Ricardo Cisneros and Ms. Tania Molina, NWAC’s International Director. The successful outcomes are the result of a year-long endeavor to build international relationships, further positioning NWAC as a leading advocate for Indigenous rights and well-being on the global stage.