On Friday, March 24 a delegation of Indigenous Maya K’iche’ health workers from Guatemala visited the Eeyou community of Mistissini as part of a Canada-Guatemala exchange program.
The visit was coordinated by Horizons of Friendship, a Canadian international development organization with charitable status founded in 1973 in Cobourg, Ontario – and the Guatemala Association for Health Promotion, Research and Education (PIES).
The visit was linked to the Reducing Gaps for Indigenous Peoples in Totonicapán, Guatemala project funded by Global Affairs Canada, Horizons, and Horizons’ community partners. Implemented by PIES, the initiative aims to reduce maternal and child deaths in the predominantly Indigenous Maya K’iche’ province of Totonicapán. Strategies to achieve this goal include the delivery of culturally-relevant training and equipment to traditional Indigenous Maya K’iche’ birth attendants known as comadronas (Iyom in K’iche’), a health promotion and health home visit campaign, the coordination of women’s health groups and the involvement of male Indigenous community leaders, among others.
As part of this initiative, five knowledge exchanges between Guatemala and Canada are taking place. The first group of five Guatemalans – four of whom are Maya K’iche’ visited Canada to share maternal and child health practices and experiences from 19-28 March 2017. One of the visit’s key objectives is to expose the Guatemalan guests to the valuable experiences of Indigenous peoples and their communities in Canada in addressing maternal and child health challenges and, in turn, to share their own stories as Maya K’iche’ health practitioners.