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BTS June Newsletter
Dear friends, 

Just over one hundred days have passed since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Guatemala and the beginning of various containment responses by the Guatemalan government. The sudden reaction to the crisis led to a wide social, political and economic disarray affecting millions. Read about the response by the Guatemalan government and how Indigenous, working class and vulnerable populations are being impacted in this piece by Interim BTS Guatemala Coordinator Este Chep! 

Meanwhile, across Canada we are seeing an incredible outpouring of solidarity in the wake of police killings of Black and Indigenous people, including Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi. We encourage members to learn and take action. Here's a recent piece by Santina Rao, where she describes in her own words her experience of police brutality in Halifax. On July 7th, there'll be a solidarity event for her at the Halifax Provincial Court. Below, you'll find a petition launched by Wapna’kikewi’skaq – Women of First Light demanding an independent investigation into the deaths of Chantel and Rodney. 

We know that Black and Indigenous communities are targeted by state violence globally. In Latin America, there have been a number of recent solidarity statements and Black Lives Matter protests making a connection to what's happening locally, including the police killings of Black people in Colombia. 

We know that struggles for justice globally are interconnected. 
Please Donate
Wed. July 8 @ 5 ADT 
Partner session with IMAP & CCDA

Thursday, July 9 @ 5pm
Feedback on BTS Mission Statement


August 15
BTS Fundraising Boat Cruise
Mabou Harbour
Oct 23-25, 2020
BTS Annual Gathering
Tatamagouche, NS
Spring 2021
BTS Delegation
Today, as Guatemala marks the Day of Memory (also known as the Day of Heroes and Martyrs), we remember the lives lost to state violence during the internal armed conflict, including acts of genocide against Indigenous communities. We continue to echo the calls by Guatemalans for justice! 

In these heavy times, we thank you for your attentiveness, support and all the energy you pour into our collective work for justice. Read on for some exciting announcements from BTS, updates from Guatemala and more! 

We hope to connect with you soon virtually or in person, and hope you're staying well! 

Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network

Revamping the BTS Mission Statement

BTS is undertaking a process to update our statement of philosophy, which hasn't been revised in 10 years and we'd love to get your input! 

Our aim is to create an up-to-date mission statement and strategic plan. As a first step in this process, we're seeking member input into the current statement of philosophy. Local committees are having conversations and we also wanted to invite the broader network (including people who aren't part of a local committee) to join the conversation. 
Join us on Thurs. July 9th @ 5pm! 

RSVP here

BTS Annual Boat Cruise Fundraiser 

Mabou Harbour Wharf, August 15, 2020 @ 2:30PM

Join us for an afternoon of sightseeing, whale watching and swimming off the coast of western Cape Breton! 

$40 per person / $80 per family

All proceeds support BTS

Please note: Social distancing measures will be in place to assure a safe environment for all and we will have a limited capacity of 18 guests. 

Register by email: rankin.lisap@gmail.com



We're joining organizations throughout the country in calling on the Canadian government to: 

a) EMPOWER the Office of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise with independence and the power to investigate human rights abuse allegations; and

b) ENACT a comprehensive human rights due diligence law that compels businesses to respect the most current international human rights standards across the entirety of their global operations and supply chains and holds them liable for harms caused by or on behalf of their operations.

Already 1400+ people have signed the petition echoing the calls above. Thanks to everyone who's signed so far! Sign-on if you haven't already!

Sign Now

PETITION: Clan Mothers request independent investigation into the deaths of Chantal and Rodney

On June 4th, Chantel Moore, a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman from British Columbia who was killed by Edmundston police during a “wellness check.” A few days later, Rodney Levi, a member of the Metepenagiag First Nation in New Brunswick was shot and killed by an RCMP Officer. 

Wapna’kikewi’skaq – Women of First Light is deeply saddened and disheartened by these deaths, and has launched a petition requesting that the investigation into Chantal Moore and Rodney Levis’ death be led by Indigenous people. “We need Indigenous people, especially women to be leading this investigation”, stated Clan Mother and Board member, miigam’agan, “We have seen time and again how the truth is hidden, and the institutions protect their own.”
Sign the Petition

Threats & harassment against journalists and human rights defenders in Q’eqchi’ territory

Hundreds of civil society organizations and individuals from across the world are pronouncing themselves in solidarity with human rights, land, and territory defenders of El Estor under threat after weeks of mounting tensions in the region as a result of the CGN-Solway mining project.

BTS joins these efforts and calls to the Guatemalan government to investigate the recent threats made against our friends in El Estor, guarantee their security, demand that the company complies with the Constitutional Court's ruling to stop operating the mine, and refrain from using the state of emergency to terrorize land defenders and human rights leaders and organizations.

We ask members to help us stay vigilant of this unfolding situation in the region of El Estor in order to support the safety of those who remain on the ground and are under threat.

Read the Statement
Justice for Tata (Elder) Domingo Choc Che

On June 6th, Maya-Q'eqchi Ajq’ij (spiritual guide) and Ajilonel (herbalist) Domingo Choc Che, known as Tata Domingo, was tortured and killed in San Luis, Petén, Guatemala by religious extremists for practicing Mayan spirituality. 

We echo calls demanding justice for Tata Domingo and an end to racial discrimination in Guatemala.

Mayan spirituality has been demonized since the colonial period. During the internal armed conflict, Mayan spiritual leaders were also targeted and killed as part of a strategy of genocide. Today, Christian far-right groups continue to stigmatize Indigenous people for practicing their spirituality. At its core of this matter is racial discrimination. You can read more about the case here.

On June 23rd, we joined 100+ groups and organizations in Guatemala and globally in signing a statement calling for an end to the state's racist & discriminatory policies.

Read the Statement

Solidarity in times of COVID-19 at the peaceful resistance in Jalapa, Jutiapa and Santa Rosa

Check out this update from our colleague Maria Reyes, who's supporting the communities peacefully resisting the Escobal mine in Jalapa, Jutiapa and Santa Rosa while BTS Guatemala Coordinator Lisa Rankin is on sabbatical. 

During the health emergency, communities have publicly denounced that the mining company San Rafael, a subsidiary of the Canadian company Pan American Silver, for taking advantage of the their vulnerability to distribute food in exchange for documents with personal identification numbers and their signatures. These opportunistic actions go against the ruling of the Constitutional Court that suspends all activities by the company.

Despite the health and economic crisis in the communities, we’ve also seen the strengthening of solidarity initiatives and new forms of support emerge. 

Read More

Many thanks for a successful Emergency Fundraising Campaign for BTS Partners

Despite the challenges brought about by COVID-19, our Guatemala partners have all continued their important work. As a network, we were quick to respond to the unforeseen challenges as well as the ones that we could see coming as a result of this new global context.  Through the support of individuals as well as organizations, our campaign raised over $15,000 which will go directly to support the needs of BTS partners in Guatemala.  The awareness of the connections between our struggles across regions and the commitment to solidarity during these pressing times, speaks loudly for the power and strength of our communities to face and overcome what lies ahead.  

Read More

New Executive Director at the Tatamagouche Centre

We are thrilled to work with Nanci Lee in her new role as Executive Director of the Tatamagouche Centre! 

Nanci is a Chinese-Syrian poet and facilitator originally from Port Colborne, Ontario raised with her sister by her Dad and three brothers in a small family restaurant.
She has supported non-profits, coops, and alliances around finance, food, gender justice, and land trusts - an economics small enough to focus on relationships and shared ownership, networked enough to take on structural issues like asset and inheritance rights, and gender-based violence. 

Nanci joined the Centre for its spiritual values, not only around learning and organizing but healing, finding ways to hold each other across the messiness. She is committed to her own Zen and narrative practices for playing, healing, seeing ourselves in one another. She is most at home in a canoe or chopping veggies.

Global solidarity with Indigenous peoples & workers at risk from mining pandemic profiteers

On June 1st, BTS joined 300+ organizations in releasing a statement which denounces the four ways multinational mining companies are profiting from the COVID-19 pandemic, at the expense of people and planet. 

An accompanying report was also released entitled: Voices from the Ground: How the Global Mining Industry is Profiting from the COVID-19 Pandemic, which can be accessed here: https://bit.ly/2TZET3x

Read the Statement
Stream films about Guatemala at home

If you're in Nova Scotia, you can watch a number of really great films on Guatemala for free via Kanopy! You just need your Halifax Public Libraries card. If you don't have one yet, you can apply for a Temporary Digital Card here: https://www.halifaxpubliclibraries.ca/membership/card

Here are some of the films in their collection:

Finding Oscar – Guatemala's legacy of violence and justice

Granito: How to Nail a Dictator

500 years – life in resistance

Fearless - The Stories of Those Who Disappeared During the Guatemalan Civil War

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